Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Driven grouse shooting debate, Westminster Hall, 31.10.2016

As many people will know a debate was held at Westminster Hall on Monday in response to the E-petition to ban driven grouse shooting and the fact that it had received more than 100, 000 signatures, in fact 123,000 + signatures.

As I promised in the initial response I put out afterwards the following links provide the means by which you can access the proceedings yourself and, likely as not, conclude for yourselves what a tawdry process it turned out to be in the end. The somewhat dismissive and even personalised tone of the event at times brings the whole process into disrepute in my opinion. This is a process whereby we, the Electorate, are encouraged to indicate our concerns about a particular issue and bring it, more generally, to the attention of MP's. It is not a process that provides the latter with an opportunity for recriminations to be voiced or personalised asides to be issued. Given it supposedly deals with genuine concerns of the public then the political antics of the bearpit that constitutes the main Chamber should be set aside to allow a more respectful form of politics to be engaged in. This is an opportunity for the real Parliamentary process to be put on display and assist in informing "us lot" how measured discussion can lead to changes or the retention of the status quo .  It failed miserably !

What it indicates is that efforts to improve the status of the Hen Harrier that, as a breeding species, has been systematically depleted by actions of some of those operating shoots, must now be intensified alongside the undoubted efforts to ban grouse shooting that will continue to take place. The RSPB must now step up to the plate and actively campaign for change beyond the considered commentary and less than zealous position it appears to occupy currently. It was evident from comments made within the above proceedings that the offence of Vicarious Liability would be resisted robustly.  This must be seen as the first of several aspects upon which immediate targetted action ( not deliberation ! ) should be taken. But more of this later !!

Ban driven grouse shooting debate.....filmed proceedings

Transcript of debate on proposed ban on driven grouse shooting.

The necessary document will be reached through the Westminster Hall link given.

Spurn Visitor Centre proposal.......short clarification.

Given that a good number of people have already read the entry yesterday on this subject I'm putting this out as a quite separate entry in the hope it will catch the eye of a proportion of those people. Adding a footnote to yesterday's entry would have lost that opportunity !

I rang the East Riding of Yorkshire Planning Department the other day in order to clarify a couple of points. It is important that people appreciate that the current, resubmitted application is being dealt with as a completely separate entity, not as a continuation of the application previously. This means that objections are not "carried over" as the application is deemed to be new and separate and people should register their objection to the proposal as if it was a completely new set of details appearing out of the blue !!  So, everyone who set out their personal thoughts about the proposal need to do so again ( sorry folks ! ). These will obviously be taken into account when the matter is being summarized for presentation to the planning Committee.

Remember, the reference of the resubmitted details is quite unique too.


I'm sure most people will have already realised the above , but after someone said "well they've already got the details of what people accept or object to " a small bell began to ring !!!   Well, yes they have but such will not be used directly.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Spurn Visitor Centre stages.

Since the initial planning application ( 15/03947/PLF ) was rejected previously by the Planning Committee of East Riding of Yorkshire Council,  the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Ltd has decided to resubmit its proposal ( current reference 16/03173/STPLF ) and, as such , that application is now working its way through the various formal aspects of the planning system.  Formal details were issued to objectors to the initial application on the 21st October and there is now until the 10th November for people to object or comment otherwise on the details.

Despite such being described as a "revised application" I am at a loss to identify any material differences if the current details are set against the original submission. Revamped presentation is not an indication of there having been any major alterations made to the detail upon which the Committee made its previous decision leading to the grounds of refusal, namely flood risk and visual intrusion.

It's also important to remember that a Council can refuse to consider and reject a resubmitted application out of hand if it is felt that the applicant is simply making a nuisance of itself and attempting to put the authority under pressure by re-applying. Clearly it would seem that that particular hurdle has been avoided despite the difficulty in identifying where the renewed application addresses the main grounds of rejection before.

Now much has been written on this issue. I have put out several Blogs, the content of which I have no intention of replicating here as the various aspects of concern are well known. If anyone wishes to look at the application in detail then this can be examined at         simply by entering the above reference. It is also possible to submit your own comments via the Feedback button on the same site.

Please note.......the mast shown on the above photograph is no longer part of the application.

Now I have made no secret of the fact that I oppose this suggestion for a Visitor Centre. Whilst many grounds for opposition have been raised I simply feel the proposal to be utterly misguided, have no confidence in the visitor attendance projections and, essentially, feel it to be a "White Elephant " that has no sustainable future.  I fully understand the need for income to be generated from the site in order to offset management costs and avoid the "subsidies" that would otherwise be necessary based on the Trust's activities elsewhere in the County. However, following the completion of the first couple of years,  when sheer curiosity might just make the books balance, subsequent years will inevitably see this situation stall and the edifice become redundant whatever new ideas might be being tried on what otherwise threatens to be a "Penninsula Playground".  More modest initiatives, coupled with redirected support from its funding partner, Eon,  could achieve the necessary financial situation linked to management obligations and avoid habitat loss, what amounts to an all out war with the community, disturbance to key areas and the inevitable deterioration in quality of areas into which visitors are concentrated on a repeated basis.

What might seem strange is that I can also sympathize with the Trust over the now imposed responsibilities they have relating to people management and the relatively recent breach in the peninsula, which might indeed get worse as easily in the near future as way beyond. Maintenance, habitat management given the area is a National Nature Reserve, health and safety requirements are all factors which come into the mix. However   I sincerely reject the need for these to be addressed via a large visitor centre  ( Faulty Towers !! ). Such is little more than a speculative venture to address a financial management problem that should have sought out a different solution !  But there, we are now poised at what must surely be the final act of this continuing saga. I would sincerely hope that this is simply not a product of stubborn arrogance, a wholly unnecessary head to head that results in the wrong circumstances emerging.  I would also hope that the Planning Committee has itself done the necessary homework that allows it to clinically appraise the revised details and arrive at a fair outcome.  Such will not please everyone, but the current situation is one which now requires resolution and proper closure.

UPDATE.  1730 hours 1.11.2016
I understand that the YWT LTD are likely to be addressing the visitor attendance subject when they hold a TV session at Kilnsea on the 2nd Nov and reveal what they believe will be the benefits arising to tourism.

Democracy and Hen Harriers........really !!

This is the first of what I imagine might be a number of related Blogs I shall issue linked to the actual televised proceedings of the hearing and debate associated with the E-petition to ban driven grouse shooting and the lessons to be learned.  Eventually, I'm told, anyone who signed the petition will be sent a video of the proceedings. At that point I shall be able to see the very latter part of the debate, which unfortunately I missed, and give a more rounded reaction to the whole episode. If feasible I shall ensure the video is part of that final contribution !

Well, I suppose it was everything that we might have expected.  Even the MP introducing the proceedings, himself a member of the Petitions Committee, took an intervention that all but accused him of bias in his introductory remarks. However, in the hope that during the final stages things did alter from what appeared and threatened to be a repetitious round of " but we're the good guys" contributions, I'll restrict myself to some immediate reactions and observations.

I do genuinely wonder what planet some of the shooting fraternity inhabit as they appear to have a completely distorted view of what is happening in the uplands. Let's take investment ! It's generally accepted that many upland moors are in a poor state and yet we're encouraged to believe that millions, yes millions, of private investment is being poured into their upkeep, by their owners. I don't actually believe such for a minute , but does it not occur to these defenders of the upland owners that these management practices , whatever the cost, must be questionable as a less than perfect result is in evidence.  And , in the face of such a need for management, who was responsible previously for what are largely a privately held landholding?

Within the proceedings I was reminded of conversations I'd had with upland owners and staff in years past when it was always apparent that they simply couldn't persuade themselves to refer to  "Hen Harriers". Short of successfully avoiding the subject altogether, mention might be made of  "pressures or difficulties" or "the species" , but never was there a willingness to actually discuss the main subject that we differed on, namely raptor persecution. Despite references yesterday to the decimated Hen Harrier population raised by the Opposition there was little or no discernible evidence of this being a problem. Yes, the odd reference to biodiversity, but generally in the context of how good the uplands are for breeding waders , all brought about, of course, due to the wonderful management of the moors and the reduction of mammalian predators and Corvids by the gamekeepers. Despite the polite,  but resolute, condemnation of the petition by Nicholas Soames and Richard Benyon ,who both painted a similar picture of this rural idyll such that a collective rendition of "Jerusalem" from their benches wouldn't have gone amiss, there was a tendency thereafter for rural employment issues and flood management to take centre stage. Interlaced within the whole was the obvious belief that grouse shooting was a jolly good thing and a refutation that there could conceivably be anything happening that contributed , in any way possible , to anything wrong. The regulations were right, the management was right, the rural economy was strong and dependent and it was absolutely inconceivable that anyone would wish to change things.

I'm afraid it was at that point that I had to withdraw, but not before the somewhat personalised tirade from Charles Walker against Mark Avery and Chris Packham and also some colourful descriptive quantification of rainfall volumes based on bull elephants. It crossed my mind, at that point, that I wonder what some of the residents of the Calder valley who had lost so much were thinking. As with the somewhat weighted remarks from the MP introducing the proceedings  I also mused on the message overall this was giving to people who had signed this and other petitions in the past, not necessarily to do with conservation matters, but on human issues too.  Should we take the process seriously or is it simply designed to "draw teeth" and allow people to raise heartfelt concerns?  I hope not as anything which then encourages cynicism results in action at some point and, remember,  all signatories are voters too !!  However, suffice to say at best, I wasn't completely impressed or convinced by the process, at least based on its first part, but perhaps I'm in for a pleasurable shock within the final part of the debate !  Sadly, I somehow doubt it .

ADDENDUM.    I'm informed that , at later stages, there was some mention of Hen Harriers so I'm rather looking forward to hearing what was said. Watch this space.