Defra – you are a disgrace

Mon 27 July(a) Copy-1Defra is the government department responsible for nature conservation – it’s hard to remember that because it’s a long time since Defra did anything remotely important for nature.  I’ll come back to that general issue at a later date but let’s just look at Hen Harriers since this coming weekend sees Hen Harrier rallies in England (6), Scotland (4) and Northern Ireland (2).

There should be c300 pairs of Hen Harrier nesting in the English uplands, mostly in National Parks and AoNBS (Hen Harriers, National Parks and AoNBs are Defra responsibilities) but this year there are 3 pairs.

Defra set up a group to look at Hen Harrier recovery and produced a plan that helps grouse moors cope with large numbers of Hen Harriers rather than one that helps Hen Harriers cope with life in the English hills. This year no Hen Harriers nested on grouse moors in England. The plan is in tatters.

Defra responded to our e-petition asking for a ban on driven grouse shooting several months ago with an arrogant, misleading and hopeless response – that e-petition now has more than 72,500 signatures and might be debated in the Westminster parliament (if it reaches 100,000 signatures by 20 September).

Defra has done nothing to help the Hen Harrier and looks like it is in the pocket of the criminal elements of the grouse shooting industry (it’s just a hobby really). Theresa May was certainly not thinking of grouse shooting when she said her government would look out for the people and not the powerful vested interests – she wasn’t thinking about grouse moors but she might have been, and Andrea Leadsom and Therese Coffey must.  We need to see Defra raise its game – people’s patience is coming to an end.

Hen Harrier - Circus cyaneus - adult male in flight. Sutherland. Scotland. July 2006.
Hen Harrier – Circus cyaneus – adult male in flight. Sutherland. Scotland. July 2006.



13 Replies to “Defra – you are a disgrace”

  1. Following today’s less-than-earth shattering news about the ZSL study showing that the direct interactions between badgers and cattle would seem to be so few as to be virtually incapable of spreading bovine TB, is it time for the two campaigns to join hands? In both cases, arrogant vested interests are riding roughshod over the law. Those badgers left by the side of the road, quite clearly without having been hit by cars, are as much the victim of DEFRA’s incompetence and craven surrender to vested interest as Hen Harriers. We have a government that is utterly indifferent to nature – we need to join hands and fight each others’ corners.

      1. Well done Jim ‘numbers’ Clarke on winning ‘Inglorious’ by the way. When I saw your name down and your guess knew we stood no chance! If you haven’t read it yet you’ll really enjoy it. Cheers Jim.

    1. …got there before 9.00pm! Now for 75K by midnight Sunday after a good HH weekend.

      1. In fact 76,500+ by 22.00hrs as it turned out. So hopes expressed here all too pessimistic.

  2. Looks like it passed it a little while back, so fingers crossed that it maintains the 1k a day level. Maybe it’ll even surpass that level over the HHD weekend and as “inglorious” looms the publicity raises the profile of the waste of public funds which sees land management increase the risk of flooding etc. just to benefit a few shooters who profess or is it pretend to be sportsmen?

  3. Honestly you’re all losing the plot on this one. Defra a disgrace ? Why ? What about over twenty years of stewardship schemes ? Persuading farmers to think about wildlife as well as profits has been a major achievement considering where the base line was in the 1980,s. It just seems all you want is a good war or fight with everyone who either controls a land based business or dare I say it is evil enough to be involved in shooting. You say the people have had enough as if you are a socia messiah but actual land managers and farmers have actually had more than enough of this relentless bombardment via social media. The gap between environmental bodies and agricultural business has never been larger than it is today because you just can’t subject a group in society to such a relentlessly pressure and expect them to still be on your side.

  4. I noticed in the Mail online that there is another major drive by the shooting lobby to get Chris Packham sacked by the BBC. It is fronted by Ian Botham again, but behind it is the Countryside Alliance and the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust. The whole article manages to completely fail to mention what Chris Packham is protesting about i.e. the illegal killing of Hen Harriers and other raptors. It only mentions that he is anti-shooting, and he’s called them names they don’t like.

    May I suggest to Chris, that the next time he calls them names that it explicitly contains phrases like organized criminals, illegally killing protected birds of prey.

    What the shooting lobby is terrified about is that the illegal persecution of Hen Harriers and other raptors will get mentioned on the BBC or other mainstream media. It is the shooting lobby’s dirty little secret. You see most of the public have no idea what is going on and would be outraged by it. Only a very small proportion of the public read the Guardian, bird magazines, conservation blogs etc. The illegal killing of raptors as an orchestrated and widespread problem is never mentioned in the mainstream media which most of the public reads or listens to.

    Therefore most of the public are in the dark about it, and would be outraged if they knew what is going on. According to the Mail online article, mentioning it would be a breach of the BBC’s political neutrality. It is completely Orwellian to claim than mentioning a widespread crime being committed persistently breaches political neutrality.

    What this needs is a hard hitting documentary on TV exposing what is going on. If that happened I could guarantee it would really hit the fan, and there would be a lot more than 75,000 signatures on Mark’s petition to ban grouse shooting.

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