Stody Estate fine confirmed

Photo: Guy Shorrock
Photo: Guy Shorrock

The Rural Payments Agency has just (30 minutes ago) confirmed the amount of penalty imposed on the Stody Estate – it’s €263,308.10 (which according to my currency converter app is £192,160.63). This differs from the figure estimated by raptorpersecutionscotland by a fair margin – perhaps they will be blogging about this later in the day (they have!).

It’s a massive fine, for a massive crime. The first, and therefore largest (obvs!), fine of its kind (withdrawal of single area payment) for a raptor killing offence in England. And for the largest single poisoning event of raptors in England, we believe.

This is, kind of, vicarious liability by a different route – it hits the business not just the employee found guilty.  It’s a lot of money for sure, and it should represent a large deterrent for the future.

Or will it? There is quite some doubt – and I have asked quite a few people who might be expected to know the answer – whether or not such penalties will still be able to be imposed under new regulations except in the case of SPAs and SACs, and only then in cases where the species whose status led to the notification of the SPA or SAC was affected.  This needs to be cleared up by Defra and RPA pretty speedily. See comments on this post, Stody fine, 16 November.

I learned of the result in a very modern way. I got home, turned on the computer, opened Twitter and top of my stream was a tweet to me from the RPA (@Ruralpay), thus:

@Ruralpay minutes ago

Hi @MarkAvery The RPA has disclosed the information in question under EIR requirements. Please see

I seemed to be first in the queue, for some reason, as this was then followed by three other more or less identical tweets. How terribly modern!

Somewhat amusingly, a little after @Ruralpay tweeted me (and the rest of the world) to say what the penalty was, I received this email from RPA Customer Service.
Dear Dr Avery
Thank you for your enquiry of 16 November about Stody Estate.
You asked if RPA is planning to make a statement or put out a press release and if not, why not; if so, when.
Cross compliance deductions are made from very many claimants in accordance with EU scheme rules. It is not appropriate to make a press statement about each of these individual breaches.
Information disclosed is available on Gov.UK here
Well that’s clear then – we aren’t going to make a statement or issue a press release but we’ve just tweeted the entire world of Twitter about it.




5 Replies to “Stody Estate fine confirmed”

  1. I may be a bit thick, but I can’t understand what’s happened here. Is this merely a statutory financial deduction made reluctantly under EU rules or do we suddenly have an energised UK judiciary determined to stamp out wildlife crime?

    1. Farmers get the Single Farm Payment in return for not breaking the law. Well, not just all laws – they are for example allowed to break employment law without any impact on their Single Farm Payment. No the only laws they have to abide by are those that related to farming – known as Cross Compliance.

      I applaud the RPA for the fine. They are wrong to keep quiet about it, and by their own rules it probably should be more. This is part of DEFRA’s culture of secrecy (which I think is more to do with not publicising how much money farmers get paid for not breaking the law, most of whom hand over to landlords through rent increases). The HSE, in the days when they were allowed to prosecute firms for putting their staff or the public at risk, would always publicise – this meant that enforcement action could operate effectively as a deterrent. I know the ConParty are fond of deterrents, but not it seems when it comes to the shooting classes.

      When the RPA were trying to make the National Trust carry the can for a raptor poisoning incident (in the Peak District) by one of the Trust’s tenants’s employees, they were initially arguing that this was an intentional breach by the National Trust, which was not only a removal of payment for the year, but a repayment of previous years ELS / HLS agreements. Of course this line by the RPA was shabby and legally unsound. However, it does show that they have a power to claw back payments, and that they regard intentional breaches by employess is worthy of such an action. That Stody Estate might have lost one year’s payment does suggest they have been gentle with an Estate that was run by a former president of the CLA and RAS.

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