Tim Bonner is the gift that keeps on giving. In our little chat on Today (at 1hr 50mins into programme) on Saturday morning he said a couple of things that are worth examining in more detail. Here they are:
There is no evidence whatsoever that Pheasant or Red-legged Partridge are doing any significant damage to these special sites. There is simply no evidence.
In the long run we also need to sort out the law because these sorts of arcane legal points will continue until the legislation on which they are based, the EU legislation, and especially the precautionary principle are challenged.BBC Radio 4 Today, Saturday. https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000p0fj after 1hr 50min.
The first of these is very simply untrue – maybe Tim Bonner hasn’t read Madden and Sage but DEFRA has. I’ll come back to this statement later, probably tomorrow but it is simply laughable. Of course, it makes it so much simpler to talk about an issue if you spuriously deny that there is any issue to be talked about. I wonder whether Tim has his heart set on following his predecessor into the ranks of Conservative MPs at some stage?
Maybe he has, as his second quote wants to throw away the environmental protection that the government has claimed it will keep and enhance.
Wild Justice envisaged this in their statement reproduced below with the relevant parts highlighted in red;
‘We’re delighted! And we thank our brilliant lawyers at Leigh Day and Matrix Chambers and hundreds of people who contributed to our crowdfunder which allowed us to take this case.
This is an historic environmental victory by the smallest wildlife NGO in the UK against the massed ranks of government lawyers, DEFRA, Natural England and the shooting industry.
Thanks to our legal challenge, the shooting industry faces its largest dose of regulation since a ban on the use of lead ammunition in wildfowling in England in 1999. Pheasants and Red-legged Partridges are now recognised by government as problem species where their numbers are too high and they cause damage to vegetation, soils, invertebrates, reptiles etc.
This move forward was only possible because of the legal protection given to the environment by the EU Habitats Directive (incidentally, largely drafted by Stanley Johnson, father of the Prime Minister). On 1 January, at the end of the Transition Period, the Habitats Directive and other EU legislation will still be relevant to UK environmental protection but each government in the UK could, in theory and in practice, start amending those laws. Society should be vigilant that environmental protection is not whittled away.
There is more to do in making sure this regulation is made to stick but we have reached the limit of what the legal system can do at this stage. We called for review of gamebird impacts and proper protection of wildlife sites and we have got DEFRA to address both’.
Of course, many Brexiteers and Conservative non-Brexiteers too, want to water down environmental (and social) protections. I’ve made the point here, in the New European about a month ago and have made the same point many times in this blog.
Tim Bonner finds environmental law inconvenient because it stops his supporters harming the countryside with unregulated releases of non-native gamebirds (and it stops them and everyone else doing a lot more bad things too). This isn’t the first time that Bonner has put these views across (see here) although it would be interesting to find out what the level of support was for them with the few members that the Countryside Alliance has. Tim Bonner MP – what a thought?![registration_form]