Stand up for England’s wildlife instead of capitulating to the lords of the land and their business interests says George Monbiot in the Guardian newspaper. Under Cameron, Natural England has been reduced from a semi-independent voice, sporadically defending wildlife and habitats, to a gopher for the landed classes. The Hampton Principle appears to have been reinterpreted to mean “do nothing that will interfere with a landowner’s economic interests, however damaging they may be.”
But Natural England, neutered by successive governments, now seems to interpret its brief as keeping the 1% happy, whatever the rest of us might think. This is a classic example of regulatory capture. An agency which should be protecting the natural world appears to have identified and aligned itself with people damaging it. Who now will stand up for England’s wildlife?
Well George Raptor Politics can give you the definitive answer to your question - no one. As an example, members of the local raptor group licenced to monitor and protect birds of prey on red grouse moors in the Forest of Bowland throughout the last 40 years, received notice two years ago that Natural England had decided to removed their peregrine and hen harrier licenses, but were allowed to keep their licenses covering peregrines in Cumbria together with licenses for much rarer raptor species. The group was also penalised for bringing incidents of poor field practice to the notice of Natural England carried out by a small number of licensed individuals.
It is no coincidence since permits for use in Lancashire’s Forest of Bowland were revoked, for the first time in over 30 years during 2011 74 % of peregrine territories were un-productive throughout this region. This year it came as no surprise to learn there are now no breeding hen harriers at all anywhere in Bowland. To add to the on going difficulties Bowland raptors are currently facing, numbers of short-eared owls are also reduced in many regions of Bowland, we wonder why?
Of course the main problem affecting the future of threatened birds of prey is far more serious for Bowland’s future. Resulting from the illogical removal of licenses from England’s first raptor study group founded in 1967, raptors are now unprotected within this extensive upland region thanks to Natural England who appear to have over-looked the consequences of their actions. In reality it’s like removing the guards and throwing away their keys to the Bank of England. What makes the situation much worst, many incidents of persecution which would normally have been identified, will now go completely unrecorded and unreported.
We would like to ask you a question George, using your skills as an excellent journalist, perhaps you can discover why the handful of licensed field workers allowed to work within Bowland are each obliged to sign and accept the conditions of a confidentiality clause? Anyone who signs this document agrees not to divulge any information to the public associated with their work, in particular raptor persecution, without prior approval. We have always considered this requirement very strange, why would any conservation organisation like Natural England wish to cover up the truth of what is taking place? How can anyone even begin to fight to control the persecution of any protected animal if you are then not permitted to inform the public about such criminal activity?