Andy Clements extended, Teresa Dent expendable

Further to an announcement in early June, Andy Clements is remaining on the Natural England Board for a further two years whereas Teresa Dent is not – see here.

This must be seen as a good thing although the Scientific Advisory Board that Andy has chaired cleared the way for the highly contentious, and still being challenged in the courts, brood-meddling licensing decisions. You’d have to think that Andy’s knowledge of the workings of environmental law had more to do with this daft project going ahead than any scientific merit it might have.

That Tony Juniper is quite a joker isn’t he, when he says that Teresa ‘has enabled Natural England to strengthen its conservation work with key constituencies, including with shooting and agricultural interests‘ and that Teresa has encouraged these interests in ‘aligning game management with wider conservation goals‘. I wonder what her most impressive achievement has been along those lines? I’m struggling to pick one out of the throng.

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9 Replies to “Andy Clements extended, Teresa Dent expendable”

  1. Yes Tony Juniper is quite a joke as Natural England (NE) become more and more a puppet of this Government. NE’ s record is appalling with the sponsoring of brood meddling for hen harriers, the killing of buzzards to preserve pheasant chicks for shooting interests, the authorising of the taking of peregrine chicks from nests for the falconry industry, the extension of the badger cull, the authoring of shooting of any birds whenever they are perceived by someone as being a nuisance. The list just goes on and on.
    Natural England need a radical reform in their outlook which unfortunately does not look like happening under this Government. My guess is they will continue in the same old way but probably get a bit worse. They are clearly no longer defenders of our wildlife.

  2. Natural England, even the name is inappropriate these days, it seems only yesterday we were hopeful of a change with Juniper becoming chair. No Chance not with NE now treated as an arm of DEFRA. What it should be is a champion of our wildlife and protected habitats but it seems to have become a champion of the vested interest, Brood meddling, and pointless southern reintroduction of Hen Harriers, licences to kill buzzards to protect alien Pheasants and no longer championing habitat protection. Not so sure about Andy Clements despite the obvious good things he has done at BTO he also championed them taking money from Songbird Survival including Atlas sponsorship, when we all know they are part of the dark side. NE need a complete revamp and to again be independent of DEFRA with their own budget.

  3. You state that Andy Clements’ extended period on the board of Natural England “must be seen as a good thing”.

    Why?

    It may be true but I think you should state the reasons.

    Does Andy support brood-meddling? Or taking peregrine chicks from the wild?

    If so, I’m not convinced it is a “good thing”.

    I want board members who will fight tooth and nail to safeguard and enhance nature – not acquiescent board members (the chairman’s track record is unimpressive) who are too timid to speak out for fear of upsetting special interest groups.

    1. James – you want Board members who agree with you in detail it seems – good luck with that. You won’t find anyone who agrees with you about everything and the search for those people in public life is doomed to failure.

      I don’t agree with Andy Clements about everything,: I could give you a list, but I don’t doubt that he has conservtion close to his heart. ANd that’s a good thing.

      If you read what I actually wrote I said that Andy being retained and Teresa being let go was a good thing. I think it is because although I differ in some respects with Andy’s views I differ in many more with Teresa’s.

  4. I do not know Andy Clements personally, having had only the briefest of email exchanges with him in the past. I am sure he has done great things in the name of ornithology and conservation in his tenure as Chief Executive of the BTO. But the question has to be asked as to the extent that the BTOs long standing reputation for integrity has been tainted by his having such close association with Natural England and having been involved in the questionable decisions referred to above. Unfortunately, I can provide a further example.

    In 2018, in the course of mounting its defence against the claim that it had not adequately assessed the wider ecological impacts of badger culling when granting licences for it, Natural England sought to rely upon a BTO report they had commissioned. NE claimed this report showed no evidence of any negative effect upon sensitive (eg ground nesting) bird species from any increase in foxes occasioned by the removal of around four fifths of badgers from the ecosystem (one part of a phenomenon called ‘carnivore release effect’).

    That BTO report has never been released for public scrutiny, despite it being used regularly since then to guide licensing decisions and badger culling policy. It continues to be relied upon by NE in signing off badger culling in and around protected sites with species potentially highly sensitive to carnivore release effect.

    I and others have repeatedly asked for this report to be released. I suspected and have latterly had more or less confirmed that all it consists of is a comparison of subsets of extracted BBS data, for a cull area and non cull area. It doesn’t take a genius to deduce that this likely to give no statistically significant or meaningful answer at all.

    In the face of repeated requests for this report, NE and the BTO have played a game of pass the hot potato with each other. BTO say that it was produced for NE and it is up to their client to decide when and whether to release it. NE say it is being prepared for publication in a scientific journal and is still (years later) undergoing peer review.

    What journal is really going to be interested in publishing a paper on comparison of two datasets that will be far too coarse grained to answer a question such as ‘is badger culling having carnivore release impacts on ground nesting or winter ground roosting birds at particular sites’?

    Andy Clements has angrily refuted that the BTO are in any way complicit in suppression of this report. It is a report for which there is clear public interest in disclosure, given that it seems to be the only piece of evidence relied upon by NE and Defra to suggest that mass culling of badgers has no wider ecological consequences. But he then refused to answer the question as to whether BTO were involved in this conveniently protracted and perhaps interminable ‘peer review process’.

    Then we learn that he sits on Natural England’s scientific advisory board and so had a foot in both the NE and BTO camps.

    I’ll leave your readers to draw their own conclusions.

    1. Dominic – I’m surprised that report has not been made available. Let’s see whether we can get it, shall we?

  5. Transparency is essential in science – all the more so when it is being used to influence policy decisions.

    I’ve all but given hope with Natural England, but with a new broom things could change at the BTO.

    With a bit of luck, its new chief executive might make this a priority.

  6. One piece of advice to anyone thinking of rewilding a farm – Don’t let these clowns near you or on the land.

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