Response from Natural England on ‘secret’ BTO report

At the same time as I contacted the BTO about a report that they produced for Natural England (see my email to BTO, their reply to me and my response to them) I also asked Natural England for a copy of the said report. It’s a report from 2018, it’s referenced in Natural England guidance to staff. It’s a piece of science. I’d like to see it and I believe I am entitled to see it. As you’ll see below, Natural England don’t want me to see it, and they probably don’t want you to see it either (I’m sure it’s nothing personal against me).

I received this today:

For Natural England to respond to an EIR request in five days is spectacularly quick. That is the only good thing about their response. More later today, probably at 6pm, but I keep being distracted by the large number of Swifts over my house and the occasional Hobby.


3 Replies to “Response from Natural England on ‘secret’ BTO report”

  1. Interesting use of language. I suppose the best way to find out the full background to what they are up to would be to put in an FOI for the contract brief that went to BTO. That would tell you if the 2018 report was supposed to be final or a draft?

  2. Keep hammering away Mark. Why should NE indulge in all this secrecy? We pay their salaries.
    As long as NE harbour all this secrecy, and appear to be hand in glove with the shooting brigade and keep on with appalling projects like brood meddling and buzzard killing in favour of pheasants, it’s no wonder that solicitors and QCs are in high demand in respect of the saving the natural world and wildlife.
    It is down to you Mr George Eustice. If you reform your department with much less secrecy, abandoning these abhorrent projects and banning driven grouse shooting as well as placing strict controls on the shooters, then there would not be the need for so much legal confrontation. It is your doing and your Governments doing Mr Eustice.The choice is yours not ours.

  3. This has become the stock NE response in respect of this paper. “We are hoping that more data and constant re-editing will turn a sows ear into a silk purse; kindly leave us alone please until we think we’ve managed it”.

    Let’s just recheck why this two year old tale of suppression matters. This particular sows ear was relied upon, in its original form, to inform badger culling policy and licensing decisions. It was further relied upon in the courts to defend NE’s decisions to sanction badger culling in ecologically sensitive locations when asked (told) to do so by Defra, and to convince the courts that there would be no significant outcomes from impact assessments the court adjudged to be defective, in breach of the Habitats Regulations and that failed to properly identify vulnerable components of SSSIs. In short this BTO report was in large part instrumental in NE escaping real sanction. The judge bought the line that there was no evidence of an impact on sensitive bird species without seeing that evidence.

    In now trying to distance themselves from that original report and saying that the conclusions need further data and a seemingly endless cycle of refinements, NE no longer seem to refute the suggestion that the 2018 BTO report was not actually capable of being relied upon in this way. A further logical conclusion is that they no longer deny that they exercised a poker-faced bluff in the high court, and hoodwinked a senior judge. What could possibly be the purpose of the suppression and secrecy over the original report otherwise?

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