Friday, October 21, 2016

Call for action connected with the forthcoming debate on grouse shooting in Parliament.

This is a letter I have sent to my own constituency MP, Angela Smith, relating to the current actions in Parliament linked to the E-petition calling for a ban on driven grouse shooting. Angela Smith has played a prominent role in raising issues associated with raptor persecution, including , in the past, confronting then Minister at DeFRA, Richard Benyon, on the need for the offence of vicarious liability to be recognized in England.

The debate on this issue will take place in Westminster Hall on the 31st October at 1630 hours ( see the Government website for details ). MP's will debate the issue against which evidence was offered on Tuesday last and for which transcripts and other documentation can be read on the above web site. It is important that as many MP's speak as possible and that a wide recognition is gained of the extent and continuation of raptor persecution in England and the means by which this can be combatted, if necessary through imposed regulation. May I encourage everyone to write to their MP, express their personal views on the matter and ask that their MP participates in the debate.  Mark Avery, the originator of the current petition, is monitoring the responses received from MP's and would welcome confirmation of people having contacted their MP's and, of course, to have sight of any response received. Full contact details can be found on his Blog

Thank you.

 Dear Angela Smith, may I take this opportunity to thank you for your continuing efforts relating to eliminating the persecution of raptors in our uplands and for similar support towards the many other conservation topics which are affecting that environment.
We met briefly at the conference event held in Sheffield recently when I mentioned my return to the area after living on the Isle of Islay for several years following early retirement. Previous to that , and for around twenty years, I managed the RSPB's NW Region, whose offices are located in Denby Dale, so my interest and concern in the subject is simply a continuation of what occupied much of the time within those years. Whilst I doubt the following is needed (!), the debate on the 31st October is clearly an important occasion for the continuing exposure of what is a routine, deliberately focussed campaign of persecution of raptors in the uplands. I am sure you intend making a telling contribution to the debate and wish you every success. In the year (1981 ) I assumed responsibility for the Forest of Bowland in my RSPB Region there was 41 nesting attempts by Hen Harriers in that area, now there are none present and only three pairs present in the whole of England. Clearly this focussed, deliberate elimination of raptors must stop and efforts made towards the protection and enhancement of the populations of these birds which comprise such a prominent aspect of our natural heritage.. Why should an elitist, privileged minority "play God " for their own vicarious enjoyment or commercial gain and deny the majority the simple, but pure, pleasure of drawing satisfaction from observing such wildlife ?
Some little time ago I registered an E-petition calling for the licencing of grouse moors, which attracted in excess of 10,000 signatures and gained a rather unhelpful Government response.Whilst I know Mark ( Avery ) has reservations about the efficacy of such an approach I still believe there might still be a role for such a system, although acknowledge that it doesn't address ( nor did it intend to do so at the time ) the wider environmental concerns relating to flood risk and carbon capture. I'm fearful that the shooting lobby will attempt to consign the current concerns to the long grass, as appeared to be the case at Tuesday's evidence session when more time, more money, more research appeared to be the clarion call, all set within the midst of assurances that the system wasn't "broken" anyway !! Ms. Smith, I have been much involved in raptor conservation issues since within the 1970's and can truthfully assure you that the situation is worse now that then, is conveniently referred to by the Countryside Alliance as an "historical problem ", but is as prevalent now as ever with no intention to change being demonstrated. Self regulation has not worked as there is no desire on the part of those who have brought about the catastrophic declines to change their ways ! More research, more time, more money is just playing into the hands of those who have attained the position they now wish to see maintained as a permanence !
I do hope that the forthcoming debate is successful in throwing light on the problem and would again thank you for your own efforts in this regard. Would it be possible for this E-mail to be passed to the Minister, Ms. Coffey, so that an official response to the above concerns might be received from the Government ? Thank you.
John Armitage

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