The evidence session yesterday took something like twice as long as the time for which it was scheduled because of the interest from MPs. That’s a good thing.
The transcript of the session should be available later today, I guess (which is remarkably quick). I’ll look forward to reading it as I know that between us Jeff Knott (who was very good) and I got most of our points across. I have never given evidence in this type of event without thinking that I could have done better, and I could have done better.
It was an inquiry of two halves. The first half was quite feisty with some hostile questioning of Jeff and me, although, fair enough, the hostility was mostly aimed at me. And then we settled down to the calm waters of the questioning of the Countryside Alliance by the Chair of the Countryside Alliance, Simon Hart MP who is paid £30,000 per annum by the Countryside Alliance. The homely atmosphere of the second half was maintained by us all being regaled by raptor observations from the kitchen window of the Director of the Moorland Association who, sees them all the time apparently. It was a shame that the Moorland Association and Countryside Alliance were given such an easy ride. Their arguments were not really challenged at all and Amanda Anderson appeared to say, we must check the transcript, that Hen Harriers do better on grouse moors than other moors which will come as a surprise to any Hen Harriers reading the transcript.
Simon Hart wants a fully costed economic analysis of grouse shooting. So do I, that would be a good idea and something that government should do. Mr Hart seemed to think I should have one so I’ve been up all night writing one. Here it is:
The industry’s claims of economic benefit from grouse shooting are small, in the order of tens of millions of pounds and have been shown to be overestimates based on flawed methods. They do not take into account increased flood risk, water treatment costs, greenhouse gas emissions or lost revenue from alternative activities such as eco-tourism. But let us imagine, difficult though it is, that they are true – they depend on wildlife crime and therefore should be ignored. Whatever the case for driven grouse shooting is, it is not an economic case.