• 2012 and all that

    It's my last working day of the year.

    To celebrate, I thought I'd look back on some of the highlights (or lowlights) from 2012.  And I promise you there will be no mention of Bradley Wiggins, Jess Ennis or even the Royal Family.

    Here are the top ten most read blogs from the year. 

    1. My badger nightmares. The badger cull ended up being postponed (see here) but the debate has not gone away.

    2. Why Defra is wrong…

    • 21 Dec 2012
  • A damp, salty squib

    I hate to end the week on a sour note, but yesterday's announcement about Marine Conservation Zones was hugely disappointing. 

    For over a decade, many NGOs and hundreds of thousands of people supported the campaign to get comprehensive legislation for the marine environment.  This ultimately received cross-party support and led to the passing of the Marine and Coastal Access Act (2009). 

    Our expectation was that this…

    • 14 Dec 2012
  • Bowland Betty's legacy

    Earlier in the week, my colleague Jude Lane posted a blog about the shooting of a hen harrier 74843; we knew her as Bowland Betty. I promised to return to the subject to let you know what we are doing, what else needs to be done to make sure Betty’s death marks a turning point in the fortunes of her species and what you can do to help.

    The killing of any bird of prey is just wrong and we here at the RSPB, the Government…

    • 13 Dec 2012
  • The Ghost of a Ringtail by Gavin Jones

    Jude Lane's post on Monday about the death of a hen harrier (named Bowland Betty) elicited many responses including this poem from Gavin Jones.  Gavin lives near Bowland  and I was delighted that he was prepared to share his poem via this blog.

    The Ghost of a Ringtail

    The moor was bright with wisps of mist,

    And floating cotton grass in down.

    The pipits pointed skyward wired.

    So light the sun, so still the moor…

    • 12 Dec 2012
  • Time for the Coalition to take climate change seriously

    Yesterday, my colleague Jude Lane posted a blog on the latest hen harrier shot and found dead on a grouse moor.   Many thanks to those of you that contacted me directly to share your outrage and to offer support.  I shall return to this later in the week.

    Today, I want to write about another conservation headcase (with serious economic and social consequences): climate change.

    Remember the drama of Copenhagen? Billed as…

    • 11 Dec 2012
  • GUEST BLOG: Jude Lane on the death of a hen harrier

    I have asked our Bowland Project Officer, Jude Lane (pictured), to offer her personal perspective on the death of a hen harrier known as Bowland Betty.  The hen harrier was recovered from a moorland area managed for grouse shooting in the Yorkshire Dales by Stephen Murphy of Natural England on 5 July 2012.  The bird’s death is being investigated by North Yorkshire Police.  Information from a satellite transmitter,…

    • 10 Dec 2012
  • Autumn Statement 2012: some reflections on another grey day for nature

    The one good thing about the Chancellor's autumn statement, which he delivered yesterday, was that he was not overtly hostile to the environment.  This is probably progress from where we were this time last year when he presented the environment as a block to growth and bemoaned the ridiculous cost of the Habitats regulations on British business.

    But there are some worrying signals in the detail of his announcements…

    • 6 Dec 2012
  • Tree planting: is there a better way?

    Before the Chancellor stands up to deliver his autumn statement at lunchtime today, I thought I'd return to the crisis facing ash trees.  We are expecting Defra to announce their ash dieback control plan soon and it seemed a good opportunity to reflect on some lessons that need to be learnt.

    I have just read this excellent article by my former colleague, Andy Byfield of Plantlife here.

    Andy carefully guides us through…

    • 5 Dec 2012
  • Shuffling deck-chairs (4): do the environment agencies have what they need to do their job?

    We have set the Government some tests against which we will judge the success of its review of Natural England, Environment Agency and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee.  Here, I elaborate on the another of these tests: do the agencies have what they need to do their job?

    The Chancellor delivers his autumn statement tomorrow.  We can expect more gloom about the state of the economy.  Austerity seems to be here to…

    • 4 Dec 2012
  • Shuffling the deckchairs (3): what is happening to our independent champion for wildlife?

    We have set the Government some tests against which we will judge the success of its review of Natural England, Environment Agency and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee.  Here, I elaborate on the first of these tests: Is there a body whose primary purpose is to think, speak and act for nature?

    Can you imagine a situation where the Independent Police Complaints Commission was told what to do by govenment?  Or where the…

    • 3 Dec 2012