In January this year, I promised to put a focus on some of the good nature conservation news stories.  I wanted to share hope and optimism that things will get better for wildlife.

Not today though.  Sorry.

Last week, we had the latest depressing vote on the future of the Common Agriculture Policy - this time by Members of the European Parliament.  In little over a week, 85,000 people across Europe sent over a million emails to urge their MEPs to support four policy demands.  I am sad to say that just one of these four measures was accepted: a recognition that paying farmers twice for the same thing is not a good idea.  You can read more about this story here.

And today, we hear that the Government has decided to ignore key recommendations from the Environmental Audit Committee report on wildlife crime.  I welcomed the cross-party report last year, but it is deeply disappointing that the Government has failed to accept the need for long-term financing of the National Wildlife Crime Unit and decided not to tighten up controls on poisons (such as carbofuron) used to kill birds of prey, allowing offences of possession to be linked to tougher sentences.

We’re also very disappointed by the Government’s response to introducing vicarious liability legislation, which would allow landowners to be prosecuted for crimes committed by their employees and make a real difference to tackling bird of prey persecution.  The Association of Chief Police Officers supported vicarious liability in its evidence to the Committee, and, following Scotland's lead, the Law Commission is considering the merits of such an approach in England and Wales.

This seemed a missed opportunity.  Ministers have the opportunity to put this right when they get the chance to consider the Law Commission’s forthcoming recommendations on reforming and strengthening wildlife laws in England and Wales.

Despite these setbacks, I am not downhearted.  Changing policies or laws takes time.  We'll dust ourselves down, regroup and think of new ways to make it desirable for politicians to uses their voices (and votes) for nature.

I hope to bring good news stories soon.  But, let's see what happens on Wednesday first when we the Chancellor delivers his Budget...

  • Martin,  I am not a supporter of Criminal VL but am appalled by the failure to support NWCU which needs to be able to set long term goals.   Can you tell us where this information is in the public domain so that we can have a read of it.

  • We need more openness on who receives what on the CAP across Europe.... I agree with all of this but would also advocate a form of ASBO for egg collectors whereby they are required to report to their local police station 2/3 times per day for the egg collecting period for 10 years. Its a form of compulsion and support is needed to break the habit.

  • It just beggars belief that this Government steadfastly refuses to provide meaningful protection to our wildlife and especially our birds of prey. The "greenest government ever??" What a sham and humbug it all is. Once again they give the impression of wanting to act in the interests of a certain sector of society and not in the general interests of all.

    I believe wildlife protection legislation is better in Scotland where vicariou liability has been introduced but I am not sure about the status of Wildlife Crime Units and the ban on poisons. Hopefully the Scotish Government is providing better support to fighting wildlife crime than the Victorian, myopic and antediluvian approach this Government is taking. It would be hard to provide less.

    As you say Martin, don't give up keep "hounding them".