We have entered the last three days of our e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting. Overnight we passed another mini-milestone: at 122,399. Can you work it out? Answer at foot of page.
I must mention that the Ribble Valley constituency reached 500 signatures yesterday – a tremendous achievement of community engagement. Thank you all!
The top five constituencies are now:
- Calder Valley 867
- High Peak 564
- Bristol West 512
- Ross, Skye and Lochaber 507
- Ribble Valley 500
It would be satisfying to pass 123,000 signatures in the next couple of days but I will have a big smile on my face whether we do or not. And so should all of you who have helped so much to get us past the 100,000 barrier and heading for a parliamentary debate. Feel proud of what we have already achieved – but our success means that there is more to do over the next few weeks.
Although I know when it is, I cannot divulge the date of the oral evidence session of the Petitions Committee. However, the committee has called for expert evidence to be submitted by 5 October ahead of the oral evidence session. Anyone with expertise can submit written evidence to the committee and I will email many or all of the 400+ people who have told me that they have contacted their MPs through Firm Briefing to suggest lines of evidence that could be submitted. I undertake to do this ahead of the weekend of 1 and 2 October so that many of you could play a part in this next phase of the campaign.
Because, I believe, the date of the MPs debate will not be set until after the evidence session (Whose date I cannot reveal!) we are slightly, but only slightly hampered in Firm Briefing by not knowing which MPs intend to speak in the debate. Without a date being fixed then MPs can absolutely reasonably say that they cannot commit to attending until they know when it is. However, there is plenty of Firm Briefing to come and so just watch this space over the next few weeks.
I submitted a fairly long FoI/EIR request to Defra last week asking for clarification on many aspects of the current Defra position and setting them a date, ahead of the evidence session (whose date I cannot reveal) by which I required their reply. A failure to respond in time, or a failure to respond properly, will be reported to the Petitions Committee as part of my oral evidence to them (on a date which I cannot reveal). The evidence session is a parliamentary select committee inquiry and if Defra does not respond they will be hampering a witness to that inquiry (as I pointed out to them).
I am in discussion with the RSPB and League Against Cruel Sports about how they each are taking this matter forward. You and I are making the running at the moment, as we have for several years, but remember that we are not alone in putting the case for changes in the uplands.
And, of course, the driven grouse shooting industry is rattled by this unaccustomed bright light being shone on its misdemeanours and unsustainable land use practices. BASC is attempting to mobilise its members (and is very rude about you all) and the Countryside Alliance paid us all a great compliment by attempting to denigrate our campaign. They can’t get away from the fact that grouse shooting is having to pull out the stops as never, ever, before to attempt to justify its existence. We did that -and we have weeks of activity ahead to keep on doing that. At the State of Nature launch last week, every journalist in the room knew about the campaign, asked about what was happening and asked to be kept informed. We’ve done that!
So here is a rough outline of some dates, some a bit vague (I know), that lie ahead:
Today, 18 September – the antepenultimate day of the e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting.
19 September – the penultimate day of the e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting.
20 September – the last day of the e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting.
weekend of 1 and 2 October – I provide examples of evidence that you could send to the Petitions Committee inquiry
5 October – closing date for expert submissions to the Petitions Committee inquiry into driven grouse shooting
mid-October – Petitions Committee oral evidence session
late October or November – MPs debate the future of driven grouse shooting in Westminster Hall
Afterwards – firm briefing and thanks to MPs who attended the debate
And that figure of 122,399? In the first e-petition we reached 22,399 signatures in a bit under 11 months. In this third e-petition we have added 100,000 signatures to that total in just under 6 months. We have momentum!