Guest blog – At the Gates of the Supreme Court by Chris Murphy

Chris Murphy has lived in Northern Ireland since arriving on the ferry from Liverpool in 1984 as the RSPB’s first, and last, Assistant Regional Officer. Together with his German wife, Doris, he’s known to shout HALT! when special places are threatened like the Belfast Harbour Pools and the Bog Meadows – once zoned for development, now nature reserves. He presently chairs two awareness-raising groups: Lecale Conservation where he lives in County Down and Lough Beg for Life.

His previous guest blog was Saving Loughs Neagh and Beg, 6 December 2016. Here he returns to the subject.

 

UK’s largest freshwater wetland is at the gates of the Supreme Court

The Environmental Audit Committee, one of the House of Commons Select Committees, pondered in January this year over the Birds and Habitats Directives. It warned that Brexit could have potentially far-reaching negative consequences for the UK’s biodiversity.

Step into the picture Environment Minister Michael Gove. In his speech in July titled The Unfrozen Moment – Delivering a Green Brexit he stated that he has ‘no intention of weakening the environmental protections that we have put in place while in the European Union’.

Is the UK’s largest EU designated freshwater wetland, Loughs Neagh & Beg in Northern Ireland, destined to be a practical example of the situation the Select Committee pondered on? Loughs Neagh & Beg, totalling 41,188 hectares in size, was listed in 1976 under the Ramsar Convention as a wetland of international importance and in 1998, under the Birds and Habitats Directives, as a Special Protection Area (SPA). I began legal action in August last year in an attempt to quash a decision to route a section of the upgraded A6 dual carriageway through a part of the Natura 2000 wetland known as the Toome Complex. This is at the heart of Ireland’s single most important Whooper Swan wintering, staging and breeding site and the third most important in the UK. These swan fields are centred on the Creagh Meadows (Creagh is pronounced locally as ‘crake’), which also happen to be part of the Lough Beg landscape made famous by poet laureate Seamus Heaney. The Judicial Review having progressed through Northern Ireland’s High Court and Court of Appeal is now on the threshold of heading to the Supreme Court in London.

Work on the contested section of the road has been suspended since the end of September to the beginning of April to avoid disturbance to hundreds of overwintering Whooper Swans, one of the SPA’s selection features. While my legal challenge is concerned with the integrity of the whole SPA one habitat in particular, lowland wet grassland, which is the preferred habitat of swans, geese and some wading birds such as Golden Plover and Lapwing stands to be affected most. The total amount of wet grassland protected within the SPA equates to just 0.37%. This habitat is used by internationally important numbers of birds for foraging and grazing. The BTO has issued 16 site specific Red (High) Alerts and 12 Amber Alerts for 18 of the 21 SPA selection species that have been evaluated. There is insufficient count data to assess the impact of the scheme on the site’s significant population of Icelandic Greylag Geese.

In June Friends of the Earth Northern Ireland won a separate challenge in the Court of Appeal over unregulated sand extraction from the bed of Lough Neagh, yet this extraction continues unabated and unregulated without a Northern Ireland Executive in place to implement the court’s directions to issue a stop notice.

FoE are alone among leading environmental NGOs in actively working to protect Loughs Neagh & Beg from irreparable damage and have successfully highlighted the legal importance of the Habitats Directive’s ‘Precautionary Principle’.

Against this backdrop of large-scale impacts, including a major Tributyltin oxide pollution incident, peak mid-winter totals of c.100,000 waterbirds in the 1980s and ’90s have declined dramatically; last winter fewer than 39,000 waterbirds were counted. This sharp decline is indicative of unsustainable pressures that conflict with the objectives of the EU Birds and Habitats Directives, the Ramsar Convention’s goal for the wise use of wetlands and the aims of many other international conservation treaties to which the UK is bound.

At the heart of the legal challenge is an announcement made by Northern Ireland’s Minister for the Department for Infrastructure in August 2016 which included the formal adoption of the Statement to Inform an Appropriate Assessment (SIAA) as the Department’s own Appropriate Assessment in compliance with Article 6(3) of the Habitats Directive.

The Department for Infrastructure is also the Competent Authority under the Habitats Directive, making this public body the regulator, promoter, developer, assessor and decision maker – effectively adjudicating in its own court. Murphy maintains that consultation advice from Northern Ireland’s statutory nature conservation body during the route selection process was ignored: “Article 6(3) creates an entirely stand-alone duty and is subject to a high standard of rigour in terms of the inputs and outputs of the process. Adverse impacts were identified under Article 6(3) for this road section that cannot be avoided and therefore not mitigated. The statutory advice to the Department was that the measures proposed to offset Likely Adverse Impacts were compensatory and that the contested route selection could lawfully only proceed subject to the significant hurdle of Article 6(4).

The EU provides the UK with key environmental protections such as the Birds and Habitats Directives, which have been transposed in England and the devolved regions into local law; in the case of Northern Ireland the Conservation (Natural Habitats, etc) Regulations (NI) 1995. Is it enough to copy EU legislation into UK law when there is neither the will nor the means to enforce it?

In court the Competent Authority described this internationally important wetland as a ‘deficiency’. RSPB and WWT are both assisting this Competent Authority by promoting an academic study of the road’s impact on this discreet, site-faithful population and by sitting on its Whooper Swan Working Group rather than resisting the site’s further fragmentation, degradation and disturbance. A sea change is needed in our attitudes towards protecting the integrity of this and other Natura 2000 sites.

 

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A phenomenon – Stuart Housden

Photo: Chris Rollie

Stuart Housden (above, 9th from the left and sixth from the right) retires from the RSPB and I was glad to attend his farewell do in Edinburgh last week.

I thought I was at the RSPB for quite a long time, 25 years, but Stuart was there for 10 years before I breezed in and stayed for the 6 years after I breezed out.  Stuart was, and still is, a phenomenon.

He started at RSPB as an investigator in the team catching wildlife criminals but moved into dealing with a different group of miscreants when becoming the RSPB’s parliamentary officer where he was involved with advocacy in parliament to get the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981. Stuart became the head of policy and advocacy next (although it had an odder name than that) and that was when I first encountered him when I was a very junior research biologist.

Stuart deserves much of the credit for moving the RSPB from a bird protection organisation (concentrating on nature reserves and influencing wildlife laws and their implementation) to a wildlife conservation organisation which still does great work in its core areas but also tries, and succeeds, in influencing major policy areas (eg agriculture, forestry, planning etc) which affect all wildlife.

But Stuart is a birder at heart, and not a bad one either – although he has never shown me a lifer whereas I have shown him one. We can explain the smiles in the photo above, and date it to mid/late April 1996 (!), because we had all seen a couple of Harlequin Ducks on the Ayr coast on that trip.

Stuart moved north, to follow Frank Hamilton as the RSPB Director, Scotland in 1994 (and it was good to see Frank last week too), and that has been his role for the last 23 years. He has built up a good team, added to the RSPB’s nature reserve landholding in Scotland (not something he would have supported in his previous Lodge-based job!) and generally raised the RSPB’s prominence in Scottish environmental decision-making.

I said to Stuart last week that I was sorry we hadn’t worked together more often in an external role – most of our interactions were either agreeing or disagreeing (usually agreeing) internally rather than having the opportunity to address the world together. Stuart is the type of colleague that you want by your side in a fight, particularly a long-drawn out fight – and much of advocacy is essentially to do with the combat of ideas – because he has great sticking power, the ability to shrug off setbacks and insults and an ability to undermine the other side’s case through their weakest point.

Stuart was always a valued colleague (even when he was being very irritating) and has been a major force in nature conservation for decades.  He’s also a birder and a good bloke.  The RSPB will miss him but as you look around the organisation there are many who were recruited by him, mentored by him and inspired by him so his influence will persist for many a year although there will be fewer and fewer who will realise that.

Stuart has asked that if you want to mark his achievements and departure then please make a donation to help establish a grove of 500 native trees at a wonderful restoration project in the highly endangered rainforest of coastal Brazil – where only 7% of this biodiverse habitat survives. For the price of a pint of beer, a native tree can be grown from seed, and established on protected land at REGUA.  The 500 trees will be equal, more or less, to the number of months Stuart has worked for RSPB.

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Dr Coffey – do the right thing

Therese Coffey

Dr Therese Coffey is the junior minister in Defra and some time fairly soon will be asked to sign off a government response to Gavin Gamble’s e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting assuming that it passes 10,000 signatures (which it will).

Dr Coffey closed the debate on grouse shooting almost a year ago in a very poor manner. She blatantly ignored the widespread existence of wildlife crime on grouse moors and sent a strong signal to the wildlife criminals that the government, yes the government, was turning a blind eye to criminality and that she as biodiversity minister was turning a blind eye to the killing of protected wildlife. As I say, it was shameful.

This is the type of hubris that governments and politicians exhibit when they believe that they are so secure in their jobs that they can get away with anything, however crass and however much it flies in the face of the evidence.  But things have changed greatly in the last 12 months.

For one thing, the last general election removed any thought that the Labour Party was dead and buried and it showed that a similar act of hubris, talking up fox hunting, hurt the Conservatives in the ballot box.

For another thing, we have a new Secretary of State at Defra who has already moved on ivory sales and penalties for animal cruelty – Michael Gove won’t see grouse shooting as a vote winner for his party and he won’t see why his department should be so aligned with wildlife crime as previous ministers have allowed it to be.  We’ve also seen the Minister of State in Defra, George Eustice, trailing the possibility that post-Brexit grouse moors should not receive agricultural support in our future farming policy. And whereas the lines in the Bluffer’s Guide to Moorland Imbalance were seen to be useful tactically a year ago they are now more generally seen as hopeless, wrong and a liability (see here just for examples).  An air of electoral, economic and environmental realism might just be blowing through the Defra corridors – it’s not quite an Ophelia yet, but keep signing Gavin Gamble’s e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting and the chill breeze will strengthen.

But also, and this comes as no surprise, the killing of birds of prey has continued apparently unabated in the past year.  The results of the 2016 Hen Harrier survey show a decline in numbers in all parts of the UK but more importantly there were, again, no Hen Harriers nesting on English grouse moors and only 7 pairs (3 of which were successful) in the whole of England and yet the Defra response was wholly complacent. To say that the Defra Hen Harrier Inaction Plan has been a massive failure is to give it more credit than it deserves. Did I, and other, tell you so?  Yes, we did. And then yesterday North Yorkshire Police were hunting for a missing satellite-tagged Hen Harrier on grouse moors in the Yorkshire Dales National Park to add to the very long list of ‘the disappeared’.

Rory Stewart signed off the previous two government responses to e-petitions on banning grouse shooting – and they were utterly hopeless (see here and here). They stoked up resentment and public determination to sort out grouse shooting and helped to lower Defra’s reputation as a serious government department even further. Dr Coffey could begin to put that right and she should start her civil servants thinking about that right now.  Does the Conservative Party want their mindless and unquestioning support for a rich person’s hobby which is underpinned by wildlife crime to be an election issue whenever the next general election will come? If not, then do something to defuse the situation now because I predict that Labour will be on this subject soon and the ‘Rich toffs’ hobby floods your home‘ and ‘Public pays wildlife criminals to trash National Parks‘ headlines won’t necessarily go down that well anywhere in the country but will certainly endanger Calder Valley, Pendle, Morecambe and Lunesdale, Rossendale and Darwen and the seat of the former Chief Exec of the Countryside Alliance in Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, Simon Hart.  But aside from electoral self interest, surely Dr Coffey wants to do the right thing for the public even if it means losing the braying approval of some of her more antediluvian MPs.

And to help Dr Coffey, this blog will provide her with some reminders of the issues over the next few weeks before the government response emerges – we haven’t got to 10,000 signatures yet after all.  Blogs will be entitled ‘Dr Coffey’s reading list’ and there may be quite a few of them.

Once Defra civil servants and Dr Coffey have reminded themselves of the issues then here is a short list of ‘do’s and ‘don’t’s for her to smarten up Defra’s act -and for which this blog and others will praise her:

The government response should:

  • be published within 2 weeks of Gavin Gamble’s e-petition reaching 10,000 signatures
  • announce that vicarious liability for wildlife crimes will be introduced in England because of the unacceptably high levels of wildlife crime
  • announce that Defra will ask the RSPB to come forward with proposals for licensing of shooting estates within a month and that Defra will respond to them by Christmas
  • acknowledge the level of concern about driven grouse shooting which led to 123,077 signatures being gained last year for an absolute ban on this hobby (I’m not expecting Dr Coffey to say anything nicer than that about a ban)
  • confirm that Defra is looking at removal of farming subsidies from grouse moors in its post-Brexit agricultural strategy
  • confirm that the evidence for wider environmental damage of heather burning has increased recently and that this is an issue that government will address and that this will require widespread changes to grouse moor management (burning and draining)
  • mention where the government is with dealing with the RSPB complaint to the EU over unsustainable moorland management due to grouse shooting practices
  • acknowledge that the plight of the Hen Harrier has not improved in two breeding seasons since the Defra Hen Harrier plan was launched and that the grouse shooting industry has not cleaned up its act and is on a last warning
  • announce that the details of the 15-year Natural England Hen Harrier study will be published by Christmas 2017 in a government report with further recommendations for Hen Harrier conservation
  • acknowledge that wildlife crime applies to many other protected species other than the Hen Harrier
  • announce that the National Capital Committee has been asked to compile a report on ecosystem services and grouse moor management
  • announce a review of the economic costs and benefits of intensive grouse moor management will be carried out by independent academics and published by Christmas 2018.

The government response should not:

  • say that funding of the NWCU is a sufficient response to combatting bird of prey persecution in the uplands (because nobody who knows has ever suggested such a thing)
  • say or suggest that grouse shooting provides a nett economic benefit to the nation (because there are no such figures)
  • suggest that the current Hen Harrier Action Plan is remotely fit for purpose
  • praise gamekeepers
  • conflate benefits of all shooting (economic or environmental) with benefits of grouse shooting (because it makes the government department and/or its ministers look either stupid or biased)

 

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How are we doing?

It’s less than two full weeks since Gavin Gamble launched his e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting.  It’s doing pretty well and I’ve slipped back into checking the progress of an e-petition every few hours (or even more frequently!).

123,077 signatures, our last total, seems a very, very long way away – but then it is, and it seemed a long way away last time until we got very close to it. In aiming for any difficult target it’s often helpful to break things down into smaller more manageable milestones.

Gavin’s e-petition has almost reached the first major milestone – 10,000 signatures. That milestone is very important because Defra will need to respond after we get to that total.  I will write about that at lunch time today.

But there’s another more distant but thoroughly achievable target which relates to the last e-petition on this subject – and that was the counter e-petition in favour of grouse shooting that reached a total of 25,322 signatures.  That is currently the benchmark for the level of support for grouse shooting and I’ll be disappointed if this new petition doesn’t go past that total – in fact I think it is important that it does. And who knows, the grouse shooters may be planning a counter e-petition of their own at this very moment (I think I might if I were them).

It’s good to see that individuals, some bird clubs and other organisations are now swinging into action and promoting Gavin’s e-petition.

There are already 192 Westminster parliamentary constituencies (out of 650 in total) that have produced at least as many signatures (in less than two weeks) in favour of banning driven grouse shooting than they did in favour of grouse shooting in 26 weeks.  Wow!  I was surprised by that number. They are listed below just for interest.  That list will grow quickly, particularly if you get your partner, relatives, friends and workmates to sign Gavin’s e-petition.  Thank you.

These are the 192 constituencies; the three numbers are ‘our’ score last time, the number of pro-shooting signatures and then the number, in just two weeks, on the current petition.

  1. Amber Valley Nigel Mills    207, 14, 15
  2. Ashfield Gloria De Piero    151, 9, 15
  3. Basildon and Billericay  John Baron   106, 8, 19
  4. Bath Wera Hobhouse    299, 15, 17
  5. Batley and Spen Tracy Brabin    136, 8, 12
  6. Bedford Mohammad Yasin   137, 7, 9
  7. Bexleyheath and Crayford  David Evennett    78, 2, 6
  8. Birmingham, Erdington Jack Dromey    89, 4, 4
  9. Birmingham, Hodge Hill Liam Byrne    37, 2, 3
  10. Birmingham, Perry Barr  Khalid Mahmood    47, 3, 3
  11. Birmingham, Selly Oak Steve McCabe    141, 2, 2
  12. Birmingham, Yardley Jess Phillips    79, 1, 6
  13. Blackley and Broughton  Graham Stringer    86, 4, 4
  14. Blackpool North and Cleveleys Paul Maynard    161, 5, 11
  15. Blackpool South Gordon Marsden    122, 4, 5
  16. Bolton North East David Crausby    137, 15, 18
  17. Bolton South East Yasmin Qureshi    82, 7, 8
  18. Bolton West Chris Green    165, 8, 10
  19. Bootle Peter Dowd    144, 6, 9
  20. Bournemouth East  Tobias Ellwood    226, 5, 10
  21. Bournemouth West Conor Burns    187, 7, 8
  22. Brent North Barry Gardiner    39, 1, 2
  23. Brighton, Kemptown  Lloyd Russell-Moyle  329, 10, 15
  24. Brighton, Pavilion Caroline Lucas    474, 7, 26
  25. Bristol East  Kerry McCarthy    299, 5, 6
  26. Bristol North West  Darren Jones    223, 9, 15
  27. Bristol South Karin Smyth    254, 4, 8
  28. Bristol West Thangam Debbonaire    514, 21, 30
  29. Bromley and Chislehurst  Robert Neill    116, 6, 7
  30. Broxbourne  Charles Walker    85, 8, 8
  31. Broxtowe Anna Soubry    207, 8, 12
  32. Bury South  Ivan Lewis    162, 8, 9
  33. Calder Valley Craig Whittaker    870, 31, 50
  34. Camberwell and Peckham Harriet Harman     200, 10, 17
  35. Cambridge Daniel Zeichner    368, 17, 28
  36. Carshalton and Wallington  Tom Brake    129, 2, 5
  37. Chatham and Aylesford Tracey Crouch   127, 9, 12
  38. Chelmsford   Vicky Ford   201, 11, 17
  39. Chingford and Woodford Green Iain Duncan Smith   120, 4, 11
  40. Christchurch  Christopher Chope   217, 14, 17
  41. Colchester Will Quince    221, 12, 17
  42. Crawley Henry Smith   147, 6, 8
  43. Crewe and Nantwich Laura Smith  205, 18, 19
  44. Croydon Central Sara Jones   116, 1, 7
  45. Croydon North  Steve Reed   102, 4, 4
  46. Croydon South Chris Philp   142, 5, 7
  47. Dagenham and Rainham Jon Cruddas   90, 2, 6
  48. Dartford Gareth Johnson   120, 8, 10
  49. Denton and Reddish  Andrew Gwynne   122, 3, 4
  50. Derby North  Chris Williamson   180, 6, 6
  51. Derby South  Margaret Beckett   125, 5, 7
  52. Doncaster Central   Rosie Winterton   133, 5, 6
  53. Dover  Charlie Elphicke   202, 5, 13
  54. Ealing North  Stephen Pound   86, 6, 8
  55. Ealing, Southall Virendra Sharma  75, 1, 1
  56. East Ham Stephen Timms   49, 2, 7
  57. East Worthing and Shoreham Tim Loughton   267, 8, 19
  58. Edmonton  Kate Osamor   35, 1, 2
  59. Eltham  Clive Efford   141, 3, 5
  60. Enfield North Joan Ryan   94, 1, 9
  61. Enfield, Southgate Bambos Charalambous   98, 5, 5
  62. Epping Forest  Eleanor Laing   133, 5, 9
  63. Erith and Thamesmead  Teresa Pearce   88, 3, 6
  64. Feltham and Heston  Seema Malhotra   85, 3, 5
  65. Filton and Bradley Stoke  Jack Lopresti   164, 10, 12
  66. Garston and Halewood Maria Eagle   174, 5, 11
  67. Gateshead  Ian Mearns   127, 4, 4
  68. Gedling  Vernon Coaker   218, 10, 14
  69. Greenwich and Woolwich Matthew Pennycook   174, 5, 8
  70. Hackney North and Stoke Newington  Diane Abbott   247, 7, 11
  71. Harlow Robert Halfon   129, 4, 9
  72. Harrow East Bob Blackman   42, 1, 6
  73. Hendon  Matthew Offord   68, 2, 4
  74. Heywood and Middleton  Liz McInnes   127, 8, 10
  75. Hitchin and Harpenden Ben Afolomi   189, 3, 13
  76. Hornchurch and Upminster  Julia Dockerill   151, 6, 11
  77. Hove Peter Kyle   334, 9, 19
  78. Huddersfield  Barry Sheerman   146, 8, 12
  79. Ilford North Wes Streeting   105, 3, 6
  80. Ilford South Mike Gapes   60, 0, 3
  81. Ipswich  Sandy Martin   192, 9, 19
  82. Jarrow Stephen Hepburn   116, 12, 10
  83. Kingston and Surbiton Ed Davey   186, 11, 10
  84. Kingston upon Hull East  Karl Turner   104, 6, 7
  85. Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle Emma Hardy   101, 7, 5
  86. Leeds North East Fabian Hamilton   251, 11, 16
  87. Leicester South  Jonathan Ashworth   145, 2, 12
  88. Leicester West  Liz Kendall   101, 5, 8
  89. Leigh  Jo Platt   167, 9, 14
  90. Lewisham East Heidi Alexander   150, 3, 7
  91. Lewisham West and Penge Ellie Reeves   227, 3, 11
  92. Lewisham, Deptford Vicky Foxcroft   230, 7, 10
  93. Leyton and Wanstead John Cryer   143, 4, 6
  94. Lincoln Karen Lee   219, 14, 16
  95. Liverpool, Riverside  Louise Ellman   247, 5, 11
  96. Liverpool, Walton  Steve Rotheram    93, 4, 6
  97. Liverpool, Wavertree Luciana Berger    151, 3, 7
  98. Liverpool, West Derby Stephen Twigg    106, 1, 3
  99. Luton North  Kelvin Hopkins    81, 2, 8
  100. Manchester, Gorton  Afzal Khan   165, 2, 7
  101. Manchester, Withington  Jeff Smith   267, 6, 13
  102. Milton Keynes South  Iain Stewart   170, 13, 15
  103. Mitcham and Morden  Siobhain McDonagh   93, 2, 6
  104. North Tyneside  Mary Glindon   188, 13, 20
  105. Northampton North  Michael Ellis   130, 7, 8
  106. Norwich North  Chloe Smith   208, 2, 13
  107. Norwich South  Clive Lewis   362, 6, 22
  108. Nottingham East  Chris Leslie   194, 2, 16
  109. Nottingham North  Alex Norris   99, 2, 8
  110. Nottingham South  Lilian Greenwood   141, 4, 9
  111. Old Bexley and Sidcup  James Brokenshire   106, 3, 7
  112. Oldham West and Royton  Jim McMahon   84, 1, 11
  113. Orpington  Joseph Johnson   145, 7, 12
  114. Oxford East  Anneliese Dodds   251, 8, 8
  115. Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport Luke Pollard  225, 6, 18
  116. Poole  Robert Syms   195, 13, 18
  117. Portsmouth North  Penny Mordaunt   145, 4, 5
  118. Portsmouth South  Stephen Morgan  190, 1, 13
  119. Preston  Mark Hendrick   130, 7, 9
  120. Reading East  Matt Rodda   191, 5, 11
  121. Reading West Alok Sharma   148, 8, 9
  122. Rochdale Tony Lloyd 127, 5, 6
  123. Romford  Andrew Rosindell   122, 3, 6
  124. Salford and Eccles Rebecca Long Bailey   178, 0, 10
  125. Sefton Central  Bill Esterson   161, 13, 13
  126. Sheffield Central Paul Blomfield   457, 13, 37
  127. Sheffield South East  Clive Betts   128, 9, 10
  128. Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough Gill Furniss   153, 5, 14
  129. Sheffield, Heeley Louise Haigh   276, 3, 21
  130. South Basildon and East Thurrock Stephen Metcalfe   13, 9, 11
  131. Southampton, Test  Alan Whitehead   193, 4, 6
  132. Southend West  David Amess   152, 9, 9
  133. Southport  Damien Moore   177, 13, 13
  134. St Helens North  Conor McGinn   126, 7, 13
  135. St Helens South and Whiston Marie Rimmer   139, 7, 12
  136. Stockport  Ann Coffey   176, 1, 11
  137. Stoke-on-Trent Central  Gareth Snell   102, 4, 6
  138. Stoke-on-Trent South Robert Flello   106, 8, 10
  139. Stourbridge Margot James   125, 8, 8
  140. Stretford and Urmston Kate Green   213, 1, 12
  141. Torbay  Kevin Foster   198, 6, 9
  142. Tottenham  David Lammy   134, 2, 9
  143. Twickenham  Vince Cable  261, 11, 20
  144. Tynemouth  Alan Campbell   226, 9, 16
  145. Uxbridge and South Ruislip Boris Johnson   96, 5, 6
  146. Wallasey Angela Eagle   181, 4, 9
  147. Walsall North Eddie Hughes   82, 5, 5
  148. Walsall South Valerie Vaz   82, 5, 9
  149. Warley  John Spellar   66, 2, 3
  150. Watford Richard Harrington   203, 5, 12
  151. Wellingborough  Peter Bone   169, 11, 22
  152. West Bromwich East Tom Watson   68, 4, 5
  153. West Bromwich West  Adrian Bailey   64, 2, 6
  154. West Ham Lyn Brown   98, 2, 2
  155. Wirral South Alison McGovern   142, 8, 12
  156. Wirral West Margaret Greenwood   159, 7, 11
  157. Wolverhampton North East  Emma Reynolds   76, 4, 6
  158. Wolverhampton South East  Pat McFadden   55, 4, 4
  159. Wolverhampton South West  Rob Marris   116, 2, 7
  160. Worsley and Eccles South Barbara Keeley   132, 3, 10
  161. Worthing West Peter Bottomley   229, 5, 16
  162. Wythenshawe and Sale East  Mike Kane   163, 6, 8
  163. York Central  Rachael Maskell   358, 18, 29

 

 

Northern Ireland:

  1. Belfast North Nigel Dodds 69, 4, 5

Scotland:

  1. Central Ayrshire Philippa Whitford 136, 15, 15
  2. Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill Hugh Gaffney 95, 8, 8
  3. Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East Stuart C. McDonald 170, 10, 11
  4. East Dunbartonshire Jo Swinson 162, 6, 10
  5. Edinburgh East Tommy Sheppard 349, 10, 24
  6. Edinburgh South Ian Murray 302, 33, 33
  7. Edinburgh South West Joanna Cherry 241, 10, 18
  8. Glasgow Central Alison Thewliss 224, 12, 15
  9. Glasgow East David Linen 92, 3, 8
  10. Glasgow North Patrick Grady 248, 12, 25
  11. Glasgow North East Paul Sweeney 104, 1, 4
  12. Glasgow North West Carol Monaghan 166, 2, 10
  13. Glasgow South Stewart Malcolm McDonald 203, 4, 14
  14. Glasgow South West Chris Stephens 97, 1, 5
  15. Inverclyde Ronnie Cowan 133, 8, 8
  16. Orkney and Shetland Alistair Carmichael 215, 20, 29
  17. Rutherglen and Hamilton West Margaret Ferrier 124, 4, 5

 

Wales:

  1. Arfon Hywel Williams 215, 9, 12
  2. Bridgend Madeleine Moon 137, 4, 4
  3. Cardiff Central Jo Stevens 149, 7, 12
  4. Cardiff North Anna McMorrin 164, 7, 14
  5. Cardiff West Kevin Brennan 190, 3, 6
  6. Ceredigion Ben Lake 312, 29, 39
  7. Islwyn Chris Evans 85, 5, 8
  8. Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney Gerald Jones 87, 1, 1
  9. Newport East Jessica Morden 93, 8, 10
  10. Newport West Paul Flynn 113, 9, 9
  11. Preseli Pembrokeshire Stephen Crabb 212, 21, 21
  12. Wrexham Ian C. Lucas 90, 4, 9
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Paul Leyland – Hairy-footed Flower Bee

Hunmanby, TA0978

 

Paul writes: One of my favourite signs of spring is the appearance of Anthophora plumipes, or the Hairy-footed Flower Bee to give it its friendlier English name. This is a solitary bee which nests in walls or chimney stacks, In Hunmanby, on the north east edge of the Yorkshire Wolds, they usually appear at the beginning of March and last through until the middle of May; this was taken in mid-April. Males appear first, followed a few days later by the females. The photograph shows a male, its most sriking feature is the white face, the female is all black. Once you spot one it’s hard to take your eyes away, they dart so quickly from flower to flower. The males are territorial, so if there are two at the same flower bed you’ll get a fantastic display of mid-air manouvres as they try to chase the other one away. Most records come from the southern half of Britain, I’ve seen them as far north as Helmsley. Parks and gardens are the best places to look, any flower bed with a good show of lungwort is a possibility. This one was found on a roadside verge, feeding on Green Alkanet.

 

Taken with a Sony A6000 and a Sony 210mm zoom lens at f8, 1/250 second, ISO 500.

 

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