RSPB webinar with Rebecca Pow

I watched this webinar this morning and it was a good event. Thank you to the RSPB for putting it together. It coincided with the launch of what the RSPB call a Green Recovery Plan (I’ll come back to that later) but in many ways this event was a stand-alone event.

Beccy Speight, RSPB CEO, was good at hosting the event and asking some good questions.

Mel Coath introduced the subject of nature-based solutions concerning trees, peatlands, saltmarshes etc

James Miller was an absolute star – if you only listen to one person from this event, then listen to James. I’m not one usually to be smitten by the words of ‘young’ people just because they are young, but James was very good indeed and his words would have been very good even if he were ancient.

Matt Agawarla is a Cambridge economist – very good too (not quite as young as James).

Philip Dunne MP, Conservative, Ludlow, is chair of the Environmental Audit Committee – not bad.

And then there was a chat and a break.

In Part 2 Beccy Speight asked DEFRA minister, Rebecca Pow, to say a few words and then asked her a few questions. You have to fear for the Environmental Protection Bill if it is to be rushed through parliament by this government. My favourite question was ‘When will the Peat Strategy for England be published?’ If you can spot an answer in the minister’s long reply then you have done better than I. It’s quite an easy question to understand. The answer is simply a date, or an indicative date, but answer of any coherent sort, came there none. And no answer to when legislation on burning on peatlands will be done. If the Minister doesn’t know the answer to these questions then who does? And if she does know the answers then they must be too terrible to reveal judging by the long stream of waffle that emerged. Of the two Rebeccas on show, I’d rather have Speight in DEFRA than Pow, but I’d rather not see Pow heading up the RSPB.

Daniel Zeichner MP, Labour Cambridge, was more sure-footed than the minister and that is partly because it’s easier to be in opposition when you can attack the failings of the government and suggest how brilliantly things would be done if only the electorate had had more sense, but opposition MPs are also handicapped by not knowing what’s happening and not having a civil service or a throng of SpAds to brief them. Zeichner did well and only looked momentarily discomforted when Beccy Speight asked him why Labour were so much better on climate change than wildlife. When he said judge us on our record, then the last Labour manifesto wasn’t reaching back far enough – he should have said that Labour brought in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act, the Climate Change Act and the Marine Act whereas this Conservative government is struggling to bring in an Environmental Protection Act that will protect the environment! He also said the right thing when saying that Johnson says the right thing but can he be believed – piffle-Pfeffel!

Watch the video – it’s pretty interesting stuff and quite short if you skip the questions and the 10-minute break. You should feel for politicians as they spend their time blagging because they mostly have no enthusiasm for learning about their subjects. It must be awful to have to pretend so much to so many so bably


4 Replies to “RSPB webinar with Rebecca Pow”

  1. Having watched the whole thing all the way through I agree with your assessment of the participants Mark. I was not perticularlt impressed with Rebecca Pow. I thought a lot of what she said was bluster but that may not be entirely due to her as much as the incompetence that surrounds her. Her bluster did not answer the question on the Peat Strategy for England. However my biggest concern is that it seems the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP)will have no enforcement powers and will probably just be advisory and probably staffed by Tory politicians. It will therefore be pretty useless and the Government will be able to do exactly what it wants. Gone will be the ability for NGOs to appeal to the European Court and to receive the benefit of environmental protection from them as we did before we left the EU. So without enforcement powers the OEP will mean very little indeed. So hidden below this Governments fluster and bluster is the fact our legal powers to protect nature look like disappearing or at best being greatly reduced and being very feeble. But then the Tories always viewed nature conservation as getting in their way.

  2. Just to add,, there was an awful lot of words spoken by Rebecca Pow but virtually no positive actions announced, while Becky Speight was being quite polite. Looking behind all the fluster and bluster I think their is every reason to be very pessimistic as far as this Westminster Government is concerned. Anything that is achieved in helping nature in the coming years will be through the sweat of our own brows. Meanwhile HS2 continues to smash up much more of our wildlife.

  3. Mark, first of all, thanks for sharing the link to the conference- I don’t think I would of seen it without you sharing it.
    Also I enjoyed your pen picture of the panelist’s which I read before and after watching the show. Agree entirely with your summary except with what you said of Phillip Dunne – I thought he was right on the ball, he really knew the detail and was a far better panelist than the Minister – in fact he should be the Minister.

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