• Natural foundations to a green economy

    "It's the economy stupid - that's what will determine the electoral prospects of the Liberal Democrats".  This was the clear message from economist Vicky Pryce at a fringe meeting yesterday.    Forget over-used phrases like "maximum differentiation" or "focus on delivery", I sensed that neutral political observers believe that the state of the economy will decide the fate of the coalition partners at the…

    • 26 Sep 2012
  • Guest Blog: Mike Clarke, Chief Executive of the RSPB on the Natural Childhood Partnership


    Today, my boss Mike Clarke was at the Natural Childhood Summit hosted by the National Trust where he announced that the RSPB will be part of an exciting movement to bring about real change in the relationship between young people and nature. Here are his reflections and a few more details on the Natural Childhood Partnership.

    It’s widely accepted that today’s generation of children are less connected to nature than ever before…

    • 26 Sep 2012
  • Brighton: where the wind blows

    The rain lashed down and waves crashed against the Brighton seafront, but inside the Liberal Democrat conference centre there was relative calm. 

    While the media are on the lookout for divisions within the party, the conference itself seemed to be getting on with the business of policy development and planning how to hold on to their 57 seats at the next general election. 

    It seems that the party faithful have come to…

    • 25 Sep 2012
  • Get the party (conference season) started

    I am travelling to Brighton today.  The great seaside town is hosting the Liberal Democrats' party conference.  The RSPB attends the major party conferences to put a spotlight on issues which affect wildlife.  I shall be packing my suitcase and popping in to each over the next three weeks.  So, I thought I would through this blog give a flavour of what we get up to and how each of the parties are living up to their environmental…

    • 24 Sep 2012
  • High Speed 2 a low carbon future?

    High Speed 2 – the high speed train line that is to connect London with Birmingham via the Chilterns – has long divided the nation, before any ground has even been broken.

    Inevitably, a new train line in this crowded country will have significant implications for wildlife, not to mention the many people who live near the proposed route. The RSPB is working hard to make sure these impacts are minimised, and…

    • 21 Sep 2012
  • A sad day for badgers and for farmers - Part 2

    Yesterday, Natural England issued a licence permitting the control of badgers in West Gloucestershire for the purpose of preventing the spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB). 

    As I have written previously here and here, the dairy industry has endured terrible times while trying to cope with this devastating disease.  However, we have never been convinced that the best way to help farmers is to force them to foot the bill for…

    • 18 Sep 2012
  • Falling in love again

    Last week I was out with our Welsh team on the Lleyn Peninsula at Cilan Head.  We were lucky with the weather and managed a great walk across the coastal heath.  At one point, in cracking light, we saw two raven, two chough, two buzzards and a peregrine all in the same frame. Within minutes we were walking across a chamomile lawn, wondering whether to wade into a heathland pool in search of pillwort (one of us did) and then…

    • 17 Sep 2012
  • A rural economy needs a healthy natural environment and a healthy natural environment needs agri-environment schemes

    Defra has a new Secretary of State, Owen Paterson.  On Wednesday he made his first public statement on the subject of the rural economy.  You can read it here

    You can make up your own mind, but to me It suggests a strong commitment to the countryside and to the communities and businesses within it.

    But it made me wanting to hear more.  So, I am now looking for Mr Paterson's next statement - one about the natural environment…

    • 14 Sep 2012
  • What price species conservation?

    Did you hear the Today programme yesterday or see Fiona Harvey's piece on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) 100 species list in the Guardian yesterday? The Guardian article raised the question of whether humans care only for species from which they can extract benefit, and dismiss the rest as 'worthless'. If you missed it, you can read it here.  

    To be honest I think this is a false…

    • 12 Sep 2012
  • Sense of an ending and new beginnings

    I usually mourn the passing of summer.  The descent into winter seems endless, I seem to catch every cold going and spring is but a distant hope.  For many, there is a sense of pain from the loss of our summer migrants and of colour from our fields as the flowers fade.  The end of London 2012 yesterday after (what was for us in the south) the most glorious of weekends seemed to exaggerate this sense of loss.

    But this year…

    • 10 Sep 2012
  • Homes, green belt and nature

    After a weekend of intense speculation about the future of the planning system– briefly eclipsed by this week’s reshuffle news – the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister announced their proposals for more reform.

    Those who remembered last year’s controversy over planning policy were holding their breath in fear that the large measure of consensus we finally reached was going to be unravelled.…

    • 7 Sep 2012
  • Do the shuffle

    Yesterday's reshuffle has compelled me to return to the blogosphere.  It is time to end my self-imposed (holiday-fuelled) exile.

    I am generally averse to any reshuffle (of ministers or civil servants).  It takes time for anyone to get up to speed with a new brief and more time to develop relationships.  I remember, years ago, asking one new Defra minister after they'd been in post for six months what excited them most…

    • 5 Sep 2012