Prentis regards rewilding as an evil

It’s interesting to see the new DEFRA minister Victoria Prentis being so chummy, almost flirting, with Tim Bonner at a Countryside Alliance do – the video sound quality is rather poor.

But I was glad to hear that in the middle of central England, Ms Prentis had had more letters against driven grouse shooting than in favour of it. Although she describes grouse shooting as an animal rights issue (c13 minutes in) which it partly is, but it’s rather more than that encompassing wildlife law (the breaking of), carbon emissions, increased flood risk and water quality as well as the very simple question of biodiversity value.

The sound quality is poor, which on the whole is a bit of a relief, but Ms Prentis is very clear on the fact that she thinks that rewilding is an evil (26 mins in).

She also said that she doesn’t want vegetarianism to be mainstream (15 minutes in) but had to backtrack on that when asked a question from the audience. It’s interesting that she prefers to eat animals whose names she knows.

There is no interview process for becoming a government minister but if there were, then hers would have looked a bit like this, I think.

Poor old Tim Bonner is very forgetful – he persists in thinking that his opponents are townies (they aren’t) and his supporters are real country people (they aren’t), at least not when it comes to grouse shooting and quite probably not on other issues either.

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17 Replies to “Prentis regards rewilding as an evil”

  1. Very difficult to hear properly, from what she had said this farm is evil, and everyone working here to create a better landscape for nature is a constituent in undermining a flawed government brexit policy.

    If bringing back from the brink, the brown hairstreak, black hairstreak, marsh fritillary, heath fritillary, cirl bunting and beaver is the devil’s spawn! – Then it’s a fair cop!

    How on earth do we allow these people to get into such highly paid positions? None of them have the common sense to cross a road by themselves.

    1. There was one conservative MSP who when they spoke to a Scotgov committee about whether or not to reduce our red deer population to let us have a few trees back and to reduce road accidents said that our hills were beautiful as they were and it would be a mistake to turn them into tundra. They were trying to sound clever and, of course, instead managed to get the term tundra confused with taiga. He also claimed that red deer on the road were not a problem if you drove carefully. Well that's that then, clearly deer observe the green cross code so it must be you driving badly that caused the accident. Yes it's pretty terrifying how thick elected representatives can be.

  2. Thomas I think it is the Tory party/Countryside Areliars version of care in the community, although I'm not sure which community. Perhaps its a community of the wilfully blind, terminally ignorant, beyond redemption or the real townies.

  3. Thousands of people are at this very moment clearing up the mess from Government's failure to recognise that a different approach to flood management - using the land to stem the flood - is a crucial part of our defences. Every night there are pictures of the hard defences on which Government and the Environment Agency rely failing. We've put huge amounts of money into rushing water off the land so potatoes can be farmed in the floodplain - it's a race against time to reverse it (and pay land managers to provide these vital defences to their fellow citizens) before the next unexpectedly ! big storm. It's a race being run by a tortoise (and there's no happy ending to this one) - there have been live, on the ground exemplars of how the right land management can have a dramatic positive effect for at least 20 years - but no doubt that would be classified as 'rewilding'.

    1. And isn't it interesting that those farming the more productive lowlands aren't pushing for change in the heavily subsidised, marginal upland farms so that they along with home and business owners would be under a lessened risk of flooding? It doesn't add up, of course too much to expect the NFU would show any compassion for mere townies having their front rooms turn into swimming pools - no one is constantly carrying a cross like the farming community does and we mustn't forget it, our lives and worth are nothing next to theirs of course.

      Even some of the more natural flood prevention that's going on involves the highly expensive re routing of rivers to their original winding beds etc. This requires surveyors, big diggers etc and there's a little nagging feeling that this still means the same people getting money, lots of it, under a slightly different guise from traditional engineered flood prevention. I would have thought comparatively cheap and simple land use changes in the headwaters would be faster and more effective in cutting flood peaks, planting trees then letting them and not so far in the future beavers from getting on with it doesn't require JCBs. Is there a bit of jiggery Pokery behind the scenes to obscure what real natural flood alleviation entails from the public? People are dying in road accidents because estates don't want to cull deer down to natural population levels so relatively speaking (other people's) flooded homes are nothing to them.

      1. The NFU and very frequently DEFRA ministers do a great disservice to the country and not only town dwellers but also those in the country as you have so eloquently said. They are parochial and entrenched in positions that result in great suffering for others. Every suggestion from non farmers, every attempt at enriching our environments is resisted and the weight of evidence ignored when it does not fit the interests of those exerting pressure on them, and to whose tune they dance. . It's time the NFU elected people who worked for the national interest not for the sectional interests that so often bring farmers into disrepute, tarring with a very broad brush even those who are busting a gut to save space for nature.

        1. Yes there are fantastic people like Tom Bowser and Chris Jones who are farmers and genuine conservationists and it's noticeable how very rarely if ever they are pushed forward as positive examples by the likes of the NFU. They would be held up as people to follow when in fact a large proportion of the farming community will almost certainly never be prepared to do so, so they are sidelined. This was very much the case with the Pontbren sheep farmers - a group who got together to look at how to take their industry forward and chose targeted planting of trees and hedgerows which dramatically improved the welfare of their livestock, the viability of their farms and as a by product showed fantastic potential in reducing run off and flooding downstream. George Monbiot and the Woodland Trust have sang their praises, as they should and I try to too - they bloody well deserve it. And how have the rest of the Welsh sheep farming community responded? Total silence as far as I can tell. It has, however, done it's absolute to sabotage any scrap of rewilding in Wales and has even claimed if you lose sheep farming you lose the Welsh language and culture. So there are Welsh words for quad bike, antibiotic sheep treatments, subsidy payments and steel sheds, but none for eagle, hen harrier or beaver then? Just what's most convenient and easiest to keep pulling the public money in is clearly the agenda, but not so convenient for those in my old home Gloucester who have to contend with all that water shooting off bare Welsh hills into the Severn and then over its banks. If I was a farmer one of the very first things I would do would be to make it very clear the NFU does in no way represent me and that I in fact despise it - I am not totally selfish and greedy. I was very pleased (and amazed) to see a Lewis crofter go on social media and register their disgust at how much money (an awful lot) from the public purse his 'colleages' are taking in simply by having a few sheep that they can't even sell, but qualify them as a crofter for subsidy purposes. Such honesty is as rare and precious as moondust.

          1. Opposition on language-preservation grounds is just plain disingenuous. Any initiative that makes farming a better prospect for local people automatically benefits the local language, because the most effective method of language preservation is to make it economically viable (even advantageous) for speakers to stay in their existing communities -- that way, it's realistic for them to carry on using the local language day-to-day and to pass it on to their children, rather than defaulting to the majority language. From a strictly linguistic point of view, it matters not a jot what those people are doing, as long as it gives them a compelling incentive to stay within the community where they grew up.

            And the classic example illustrating this point ? Er, yes, that'll be... Welsh.

        2. It's time RMT* elected people who worked for the national interest not for the sectional interests that so often bring railway staff into disrepute, tarring with a very broad brush even those who are busting a gut to get you to your destination on time

          * insert Union of choice here

          1. A fair point Filbert: clearly the raison d'etre of the NFU is to represent the sectional interests of its members. As with the RMT and other trade unions they might serve their members better if they sometimes were prepared to look a little beyond the ends of their own noses to work out what those interests might be in the long term. Were the NFU less obdurately attached to business as usual and more prepared to see how farming can adapt to better protect 'public goods' alongside pure food production it might benefit their members as well as the environment in the long term.

  4. Under what stones do some of these politicians creep out. Ms Pentis sounds as though she is straight out of the Victorian age with her antediluvian attitudes.

    1. I'm not sure its Victorian age they creep out of, not sure entirely what it does involve other than a huge set of blinkers, an invoked feeling of privilege, that we the plebs owe them a living, a complete charisma and empathy bypass and an education that builds a foundation of complete self righteous, self justifying vacuity. The really sad thing is we know and can do much better after all we elected these nincompoops.

  5. As a student in 1972 I learned about the value of tree cover in slowing run off and preserving soils. One of the most depressing thing about getting old is seeing how long it takes for such obvious ideas to be implemented. You are right Roderick this stuff is not new.

    1. Rewilding plans have caused no end of trouble in Ambridge ( Borsetshire).
      Is it any wonder she is fearful ?.

  6. Until we radically change land ownership and stop subsidising to the extent it is at ,particularly sheep farming all the problems written about above will continue. Its not going to happen soon with a Tory government full of rich farmers and landowners.


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