I suppose I might accept their answer to the first question – I don’t want adversely to affect the course of justice, do I? But either NE have or haven’t given a consent…
As far as the second answer is concerned (in the course of completion) – I don’t really believe it. I believe that NE has done this work.
My understanding is that NE has come to a shabby, secret deal with grouse shooters and has allocated some areas of the Bowland Fells SPA (which was partly designated for its Lesser Black-backed Gull colony, and partly for its now non-existent Hen Harrier population) as LBBG sensitive areas inside which the gulls are protected except in areas of blanket bog restoration (Eh? What’s that all about?).
Outside of LBBG sensitive zones, NE are said to have agreed that gulls can be killed if they are predating ground-nesting birds. NE must be aware that there is research that shows that LBBGs from Bowland mostly feed away from the site eg at rubbish dumps. There may also be some NE staff remaining that can see from this photograph that juvenile gulls have been killed – and they don’t predate anything as they are fed by their parents.
I think we may find out in due course that gulls have been killed inside LBBG sensitive areas and against the expressed instructions of the landowner in question.
This seems an extraordinary mash-up of nonsense by a publicly-funded statutory agency whose job it is to maintain the conservation value of SPAs, SSSIs etc etc and not to bend over backwards for the rich and powerful shooting interests who may be mates of the current government. It wouldn’t surprise me if NE isn’t struggling to dig itself out of a very big legal hole into which it may have fallen with its friends the grouse shooters. But, I might be wrong, so the sooner that NE comes clean the better.
I ask again – is NE fit for purpose? And quite honestly I don’t think it is. I no longer trust NE to do the right things for nature, and I no longer trust NE to tell the truth about what it is doing.