• State of Nature at the Conservative Party Conference

    There has been some reaction (see here) to last night's fringe event organised by the RSPB at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester.

    I was not there, but our own Westminster Wigeon gives this report from last night's events...


    The last of the State of Nature Question Time events, at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, was certainly the liveliest of the three.

    • 30 Sep 2013
  • Together we can avoid dangerous climate change

    At 9am this morning, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its major report on the science of climate change. It is the first in a series of three that together represent an important milestone in the development of our collective understanding of the science behind climate change; and for the RSPB it is yet another reminder that if we want to save nature, we must redouble our efforts to address…

    • 27 Sep 2013
  • A timely reminder of the importance of peer-reviewed science

    This morning, the Independent Panel on Climate Change will publish its fifth report on the science of climate change.  If we were living in a rational world, this would be the moment that we stopped sleep-walking to climatic disaster for wildlife and the poorest people of the planet and started weaning ourselves off fossil fuels.

    But, I expect many (usual suspects) will pile into the debate and seek to rubbish the science…

    • 27 Sep 2013
  • Natural England rejects further buzzard licences

    As regular readers to this blog will know, earlier this year NE issued licences to control buzzards at a chicken farm and a pheasant shoot. I summarised our concerns and opposition at the time. In the interests of transparency, we published the (heavily redacted) papers we had obtained through an Environment Information Regulations (EIR) request at that stage.

    We only learned of these licences after they were issued…

    • 26 Sep 2013
  • Renewal?

    Any party that suffers an electoral defeat goes through a period of reflection and renewal.  The crushing reality of leaving government must be a painful experience and it is perhaps not surprising that few parties get back to power at the first attempt.  

     Labour, this week, was trying to demonstrate that the wreckage of the 2010 election defeat is in the past, that the process of renewal is well advanced and that they…

    • 25 Sep 2013
  • Brighton at night

    It is a treat to wake up in Brighton on a sunny September morning like today.  The sea is calm, the gulls are noisy and the joggers seem content.  No-one would know that Brighton was hosting a party conference.

    At night however, the story is very different.  As the sun goes down, the men in suits and ladies in heels stride purposefully up and down the King's Road on the seafront diving into various hotels in search for…

    • 24 Sep 2013
  • Talking for Nature: the RSPB on the party conference merry-go-round

    I am on my way to Brighton for the Labour Party conference. For me, it is my first foray of the conference season. For our parliamentary team, this is week two. Over the years, I have been to all three on many occasions and you do feel like you start with Lib Dems in summer and finish in autumn. In between your life stands still... a blur of meetings, speeches, canapes and B&Bs.

    Well, it still feels like summer to…

    • 22 Sep 2013
  • The results are dribbling in...

    Around this time of the year, we begin to build a picture of breeding success on our nature reserves.  It's an important opportunity to take stock on how some of the 15,000 species on our estate are faring.

    We're expecting mixed results this year.

    I am pessimistic about the final results from our seabird colonies.  In July, we reported (here) that the cold spring had hit Scottish seabirds hard:  counts on some sites…

    • 20 Sep 2013
  • Energy matters: a focus on biofuels

    I explained recently why energy matters to the RSPB and why we want any energy revolution to take place in harmony with nature.  We need to generate energy in ways that do not cause needless harm to the natural environment.  Biofuels is an area on which we have been campaigning for over a decade.  As Nightjar said in response to my post on Monday, biofuels policy is not an area about which decision makers should be proud…

    • 18 Sep 2013
  • Learning to talk... about nature

    On Friday, on the eve of the party conference season, a group of NGOs (including the RSPB) launched its Green Standard report. It provides an assessment of the performance of the three main parties and encourages them to up their game.

    The good news is that each of the party does have standard-bearers for the environment. The report singles out Caroline Spelman and Richard Benyon, for example, for providing the right…

    • 16 Sep 2013
  • Giving nature a helping hand

    Last week, the UK Government published its consultation on biodiversity offsetting - outlining how it plans to improve the way that new habitat is created when some is lost through development (as obliged under the National Planning Policy Framework).  You can see our initial response here

    This week, the Environment Agency has completed a crucial stage in a habitat creation scheme at Medmerry in Sussex which will provide…

    • 13 Sep 2013
  • The INNS and outs of alien species

    Many years ago, while working for Plantlife, I spent a lot of time trying to highlight the threats posed by invasive non-native species (INNS) both to wildlife but also to the economy.   To be honest, I made little progress but long after I had gone Plantlife kept arguing for reform and it was great that this year they were able to celebrate some progress when five INNS were banned from sale (for an excellent critique…

    • 11 Sep 2013
  • Five things to look forward to this autumn

    I was lying on my back in a park this weekend looking up to the heavens when my field of vision was filled with swallows and house martins.   Maybe I was on my back because my boy had just nutmegged me at football, maybe I wanted some late summer sun on my face or maybe I was day-dreaming about taking a sea kayak down the River Tay next year to witness the spectacle of thousands of Hirundae sweeping past me (I was with…

    • 9 Sep 2013
  • Why energy matters to the RSPB

    Arriving at the Lodge, the RSPB’s headquarters in Bedfordshire, I pass a 50 metre high mast in a field. This is a constant reminder of the challenge we face to reduce our carbon emissions in a way that doesn’t harm the wildlife we are here to protect.

    This mast has been up for well over a year collecting data on wind speeds, part of our project to construct a wind turbine in partnership with renewable energy…

    • 6 Sep 2013
  • Nobbling lobbying?

    Yesterday, I wrote about the need to get young people active and highlighted the importance of encouraging them to have contact with nature. This is something that the RSPB cares about deeply, has worked on for many years and will continue to do so.

    Yet, in my still-burgeoning post holiday in-box is a briefing on the new Transparency of Lobbying Bill which gets its Second Reading tomorrow. As highlighted by the NCVO…

    • 3 Sep 2013
  • Getting active and getting closer to nature

    Am still catching up on things that happened while I was on holiday.  As a Dad of an eight year old boy and a six year old girl, I was pretty depressed by new research which found that only half of seven year-olds are meeting the recommended amount of daily physical activity. That’s not strenuous exercise or playing competitive sport, for the majority of children it will simply mean running around, playing, climbing and…

    • 2 Sep 2013