...if they fail to comply with European regulations".  That was the message from the Prime Minister in the second part of his interview with John Craven on Countryfile last night.  If you missed it, you can watch it again here.  He was talking at the time about animal welfare standards.  I wonder if he feels the same about those Member States that have yet to establish a comprehensive network of protected in the marine environment as determined by the EU Birds and Habitats Directives?

He also supported the "difficult" decision of announcing two pilot areas "as part of a balanced package of measures" to tackling bovine tuberculosis.  I look forward to seeing the rest of the package.

But, I must not be too sniffy, I was pleased that the Prime Minister (the first?) agreed to be interviewed on Countryfile.  It suggests that it is politically important for him to be seen to be engaged in rural issues.  And while it was disappointing that John failed to ask any questions excplicitly about wildlife, in my mind it reinforces the need for NGOs and their members to continue to pressure politicians to be as good at it can be on protecting the environment.  Unless the voters tell their elected representatives about their concerns for the environment, can we really blame them if they direct their energy onto other pressing matters?

So, my advice to anyone that reads this and cares about nature - make your local MP your pen pal.  Tell her or him what you think about how the goverment is getting on protecting wildlife and tackling climate change, tell her or him about  the species or special places that matter to you and are at risk from planning reforms, tell her or him that the Habitats Regulations are an appropriate test of sustainable development and tell her or him about your frustration that we still have no comprehensive network of European sites in the marine environment.  And tell her or him that you'll be in touch again soon.

Have a good week.  And do tell me if you will be writing to your MP sometime soon...

  • Very disappointing that Mr Cameron's only references to biodiversity were to the shooting of badgers and the hunting of foxes.  He was also misleading on badgers.  He stated that the Government wanted healthy badgers and healthy cattle - a nice sound bite but Defra have stated that their policy is not about improving badger health.  Culling badgers will actually result in a higher proportion of the remaining population carrying TB.  If he really wants a healthy badger population he should be getting behind badger vaccination.  Pity John Craven didn't ask him to explain how shooting badgers will be good for their health.  I will see whether my MP will take it up with the PM.

  • Taffy2: You might be surprised but this is taken from the Commons debate on High Speed 2 last Tuesday 10th Jan. Your MP spoke up for Nature then.

    Nadhim Zahawi (Stratford-on-Avon) (Con): Today’s announcement has been welcomed by the business community in my constituency, including the chairman of the Coventry and Warwickshire local enterprise partnership, but many people are rightly concerned about the countryside. Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is vital to safeguard the countryside and its wildlife as far as possible for all the people who are living there today, as well as for those who will be living there tomorrow?

  • Hi Martin, I have written to my MP about Mr Osbornes alarming statments about the Habitats Directive. As you say it is probably a step forward that the Prime Minister was interviewed on Country File and that his message was that EU member states should be taken to court if they fail to comply with EU Regulations. (I trust that will apply to this Government if they infringe the Habitats Regulations or Birds Directive) However, overall, I again felt that the interview disappointed. There was a fair amount of politics in some of his answers, particularly in commiting to resurrect the hunting with dogs issue. I also felt the he lacked a holistic /overall appreciation of the issues facing the natural world and our countryside. The omission of any reference at all to the continuing loss of biodiversity both onshore and offshore was gross, though of course that was possibly as much down to the interviewer as to the Prime Minister. Marks out of 10 for the interview? I would give it 4, no more.

  • Martin, I don't think there would be any point in my writing to my MP (Stratford on Avon) again. I wrote after George Osborne's budget remarks, and haven't had a reply. I can only infer that he's either too busy to worry about wildlife and the environment, or really can't find an answer to what GO said!