Natural England continues not to come clean – Bowland Gull Cull 9

The story so far:

Smidgeons of information on gull culls from NE14 February 2018

Bowland gull cull licensing facts still kept secret by NE6 February 2018

FOI Bowland gull cullNovember 2017

Quick response from NE on Bowland gull cull7 September 2017

Any NE news on Bowland gull cull?5 September 2017

Response from NE on Bowland gull cull15 August 2017

Those gulls again10 July 2017

RSPB calls on Natural England to act7 July 2017

 

 

On 9 March I asked for the following:

Please supply copies of all correspondence (paper or email) between *********, whose job title is, I believe NE **************** but is sometimes known as the******************** (or similar), and the Abbeystead Estate in the period July-December 2017 inclusive.

Please supply a list of phone calls and dates between ************ and the Abbeystead Estate in August and September 2017 and a summary of the areas covered in those calls.  Did they involve conversations about the culling of gulls in the Forest of Bowland area?

many thanks, have a nice weekend.

On Friday afternoon (6 April)(NE always seems to answer my FoI requests late on a Friday afternoon), I was told that NE need another 20 days to answer because of ‘the complex nature of the request’.

A bunch of gulls were, it seems, killed in a Special Protection Area for Birds which was, at least partly, originally notified because of its importance, in Europe, for those gulls.  If that’s not correct then I’m surprised that NE hasn’t said so.

Was this activity licensed by NE?  If not, I’m surprised that NE hasn’t said so.

Did NE staff give the impression that they were relaxed about a gull cull in this area because they were talking to important stakeholders involved in grouse moor management?  Perhaps that is what NE is investigating very very slowly. This is a murky story which is looking murkier and murkier for as long as NE fail to explain the role of their staff, to justify what happened or to tell the public what actions NE has taken on this matter. We deserve an explanation of what went on in Bowland and we deserve that explanation now.

 

 

 

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10 Replies to “Natural England continues not to come clean – Bowland Gull Cull 9”

  1. I must say that if I lived near certain NPs/ AONBs I'd be very tempted to make some small additions to the signage on the ground rather than just on paper - which might just stir them up in a way dead HH doesn't seem to - these sorts of bodies can be far more sensitive about their hard estate than what they are meant to be protecting. And the subsequent debate about vandalism would be very, very interesting.......

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  2. "Area of astounding corruption and incompetence." Might be more appropriate for the signage.

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  3. Give them a chance. This is the consented culling of an SPA species on an SPA that is supposed to protect it. It's bound to take a while to come up with something to make that sound even vaguely justifiable. My guess is this is one they are so embarrassed about they will ultimately come clean but after such a long delay they can point to old systems and procedures. The defence will be this was indeed a dreadful thing to do but it was a while ago and we don't allow it to happen anymore. But we'll have to wait (and wait) and see.

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  4. Can't you get this into the Conservative Press, Mark? I would think that both the Daily Express and Daily Mail would be interested. It is an audience which a Conservative Government would be sensitive about...

    My suggestion is to compile an 'Op Ed' piece to both, and to see if they respond?

    And then to send same piece to the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5...

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  5. Mark, NE deserves all the criticism they're getting for their repeated failures.

    But your repeated insinuations that the AONBs are somehow responsible, or should/ could be acting as campaigning NGOs, is simply factually incorrect and therefore extremely unfair.

    I have some difficulty in believing that you don't know what AONBs are, how they are governed, or what their remit and powers are and are not after all these years, and so the fact that you are encouraging others (see comments above) to similarly misunderstand their role and governance is disappointing.

    What exactly would you like the AONB to do that they are not currently doing? Do you think that the governing Joint Advisory Committee made up of elected Local Authority members would agree to take this action if only the AONB staff asked them? Do you think Defra who fund the AONB would be happy if they extended their activities in the way you propose?

    Or maybe you think that the AONB Officer should issue some strongly worded statement without authority, and got sacked for their troubles? Do you think that would allow the AONB staff a bit more room for maneuver or lead to a clamp down?

    What exactly do you think is *within the remit* of the AONB to do but which they are not doing? And when you make that criticism, is it directed at the staff or at the JAC (who have the governing "Trustee" function)?

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    1. It would, as you say, be unfair to suggest or insinuate that the AONB is responsible for this situation but I am unclear where you feel this has occurred. Looking back through the thread it seems to me that all of the criticism - explicit and implied - has been aimed squarely at NE and the only mention I could find of the AONB in any of the sequence of posts was this on 10 July last year: "It’s not the job of the AONB to sort this out, it is the job of the utterly hopeless Natural England and yet NE is a bigger part of the problem and very little of the solution." That hardly seems to be unfair towards the AONB.

      You may perhaps refer me to the 'defacing' of the AONB sign as insinuating that the AONB authority is responsible for the status of birds of prey in the Forest of Bowland but I don't think that is necessarily so. It is merely pointing out that the area is devoid of the birds which surely form an intrinsic part of the natural beauty for which the area was declared to be outstanding. The context of the associated text and many previous posts make it quite clear that the blame for that lies first with the shooting estates that refuse to tolerate the presence of anything that might conceivably eat a grouse and secondly the supine nature of NE who rather than standing up to the shooting interests seem increasingly to bend over backwards to accommodate their every demand.

      Having said that, even if the AONB itself bears no responsibility for the situation that has arisen does that really mean that they are unable to comment on the disgraceful elimination of predatory birds from Bowland as something that seriously detracts from the reputation and beauty of the area? It seems that the leaders of National Parks can speak out on this issue when they wish to and if pressed hard enough, so is it really not possible for suitably senior and authorised representatives of AONBs to do likewise?

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