On the day when the full implications of the proposals issued by DEFRA relating to Buzzards emerged, I chose to ring past colleagues at RSPB HQ and could sense the palpable sense of shock and surprise the initiative had caused ! My own enquiries (still ) related to the Hen Harrier persecution issue and how it might be pursued further given its prominence. Now it was obvious two major subjects associated with birds of prey were there to be dealt with, responded to and "kept alive" in a public context.
Additional to this, of course, is the fact that the consultation exercise based on the review by the Law Commission on wildlife legislation arises in a few weeks time. I sense that this will be a major confrontation in itself, but I'm prepared to be surprised! One imagines that, if the review actually proposes that the Vicarious Liability clause be embraced in legislation, there will be robust opposition arise from the Tory factions of the Coalition given the underlying sentiments expressed in their current policies. One can no longer have any confidence in this Administration's approach to environmental and conservation matters, which I feel is a very real worry. Few governments escape criticism when it comes to environmental matters, but this Administration appears hell bent intent on attacking core elements of legislation we have taken some comfort from previously, e.g. habitat protection and regulation.. A time is emerging when everyone needs to be willing to register their dis-satisfaction to negative proposals coming forward, as opposed to grumbling in the background!
The complacent reaction of the Government towards the continuing persecution of Hen Harriers by shooting interests and , now, the very obvious compliance with the demands from the same source relating to Buzzards, are both indicators of the position the Tory faction of the Coalition intend to follow. The mind boggling amount of money awarded for research on various proposals to control Buzzards, arrived at by responding to clamour and anecdotal submissions without any evidence backing them up, is nothing short of scandalous, particularly given the current financial situation !
One is left with the firm conclusion that the Government, via DEFRA, is intent on protecting and assisting land owners associated with game management come what may, endorses my view that this has now become a distinct political issue with insidious social overtones and weighted in favour of vested interests of an elite minority. The conservation elements linked to these issues pale into insignificance by comparison and, clearly, the wishes of the majority are conveniently being ignored.
None of this is to the Government's credit, and a time will come when they pay the price for ignoring the electorate in such a dismissive fashion. In the meantime, a simple comparison of the budgets awarded Hen Harrier conservation on the one hand ( a staff member and <£16 k in 2012/13 ) and the award of funds to research the containment of the Buzzard population (£375 k ) sets the Government's attitudes and sympathies in context. doubtless more needs to be written and presented over the next few days.