For ages, and ages, and ages our big brother of a blog, RaptorPersecutionUK and this blog have been asking NE when they are going to publish the results of their long-lasting Hen Harrier study. One of my first blogs on the subject was back in May 2012 when I was barely out of short trousers.
Through persistence, we’ve learned a little since then – but not very much. Here are some other significant steps in the story.
After all this pressure, NE actually released a few data – see Those NE Hen Harrier data, 27 September 2017
Now that last blog was treated as an FOI request by NE and they responded to the question about when we would all hear the results of the Hen Harrier work that we had funded as follows:
1. Please tell me when that analysis [of the Hen Harrier tracking data] will be available to the public?NE response to an FoI request received by me (whilst abroad) on 11 June and posted here on 13 June from Oregon, USA
The Hen Harrier tracking data is currently being analysed by leading raptor experts and will be presented at the International Ornithological Congress in August. Following this we intend to make the Hen Harrier data available to the public through a suitable format.
Now I took that to mean, and you tell me whether you would have thought the same, that the results would be revealed to an expectant world, tomorrow, in Vancouver and the raw data would be made available shortly after. Vancouver is 4,666 miles from my home by the great circle route and I checked my Premium Bonds but they hadn’t come up in August so I wrote (jointly with RPUK) to the authors of the paper and asked them when they’d be able to tell us (and we could tell you) about their exciting findings. To cut a long story short, the answer was ‘not for months’ which didn’t seem to fit with what NE had told me in repsonse to an FoI. I was told that even if I were sitting in the audience in Vancouver I wouldn’t be allowed to tell the world about whatever the findings were…
However, before I got in touch with the authors I had taken the precaution of asking NE:
What plans does NE have to publicise the results of the analysis of its Hen Harrier data that will be presented to an ornithological conference in Vancouver, Canada on 25 August 2018?An information request to NE from me on 5 August
…and got this reply…
Thank you for your email dated 5 August 2018.NE response on 16 August
It is Natural England’s intention to make increased resolution data for the last known good fix, as used in the analysis available shortly after the presentation through the GOV.UK website.
That doesn’t really answer a perfectly reasonable question, does it? The question asks about the results of the analysis, and the answer only mentions the data. So, it seems that the findings of the 14+ year study that you and I funded are going to be presented in Vancouver tomorrow but under an embargo of silence and there is no date set for you to know about the analysis that has been done. And that far from the data being made available, it is now only the last fix that will be disclosed some time in the future.
So, unless you have a mole, a talking mole, in the room in Vancouver when the talk is given, you won’t know any more tomorrow than you do today.
It doesn’t feel to me that NE has been straight with us all – but that hardly comes as a surprise these days.
I have very recently been told by a someone close to NE that they expect rather more to come out tomorrow so we’ll have to wait and see. If it does, then it is possible that the pressure, over the years, and months, and weeks and last few days, exerted by RPUK and this blog have paid off. If it doesn’t, we did try!