Author: Backsbottom Farm

RSPB

RSPB walks away from Hen Harrier Action Plan

hh LAURIE CAMPBELLThe RSPB has decided to ‘withdraw its support for DEFRA’s Hen Harrier Action Plan’. See Conservation Director Martin Harper’s blog here for the full explanation.
This is very welcome news – well done RSPB!
Some will say the RSPB should never have supported it in the first place (and we’d be in that camp). The Hen Harrier Action Plan was never a plan to help hen harriers, even though it was dressed up as such. What it actually was/is, is a plan to help remove hen harriers from driven grouse moors so that there are more red grouse available to be shot by wealthy gunmen (see here).
Others will say that the RSPB has played a clever game by initially supporting the Action Plan, knowing full well that the grouse-shooting industry would never be able to deliver on its promises to stop the illegal killing of hen harriers. By giving the industry the time and space to fail, and then by walking away from it, the RSPB is able to make a strong political statement and still come out of this looking like the reasonable and rational organisation we all know it to be.
By supporting this ridiculous Action Plan, the RSPB came in for quite a lot of criticism from ‘our side’. Many of us were frustrated that, at best, the RSPB was sitting on the fence and at worst, legitimising the ‘sport’ of driven grouse shooting and all its associated environmental damage. The dark side used the RSPB’s involvement with the HH Action Plan as a PR stick with which to beat detractors of the Action Plan: those of us who support a ban on driven grouse shooting were painted as ‘extremists’, a bunch of unreasonable radicals unwilling to engage in partnership working to find a solution. There’s an element of truth in that, because, unlike the RSPB, our patience with the grouse shooting industry expired a long time ago. We already know that this industry is either incapable of, or unwilling to, abide by the law and so negotiation with them is futile. But we wouldn’t describe that as being unreasonable or extreme; rather it’s more of an obvious next step in the face of blatant ongoing criminality (and subsequent denial) from the grouse shooting industry. It’s good to see the RSPB catching up.
Although, the RSPB hasn’t caught up entirely. Now it has withdrawn its support for the HH Action Plan, it looks like the RSPB has at least swung its legs back over to our side of the fence. But it still hasn’t jumped from that fence. With its steadfast refusal to support a ban on driven grouse shooting, the RSPB is still perched atop that fence and is looking down at the ground trying to judge whether the distance to jump is too far. The RSPB thinks licensing is the way forward, rather than an outright ban. There are merits in that approach, of course, but to be successful, licensing will require effective enforcement AND a willingness from the grouse shooting industry to abide by the licensing rules. We’ve seen no evidence to suggest that either of these two elements will work.
But for now, let’s applaud the RSPB’s withdrawal from the HH Action Plan, let’s enjoy the increasing isolation with which the grouse shooting industry is bringing upon itself, and let’s push on with our aim of getting 100,000 signatures on THIS E-PETITION to trigger a Westminster debate on the future of driven grouse shooting.

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Beer and Birds

Bowland Brewery Joins Forces With RSPB To Bring Britain’s Most Endangered Bird Of Prey Back From The Brink

In March 2016 Bowland Brewery entered into a partnership with the RSPB to help reverse the dramatic decline in breeding hen harriers.
Our flagship beer: Hen Harrier, was inspired by these iconic raptors, whose breeding stronghold lies in the Forest of Bowland, where the brewery was first established.
The hen harrier is also the symbol of the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – an increasingly popular destination for nature-loving tourists which has traditionally played host to several breeding pairs of these majestic birds. But the hen harrier is in trouble. This beautiful bird of prey was once widespread throughout England, but numbers have fallen to just a few pairs of birds centred on the wilder uplands of northern England.
For the last few years, the breeding population in England has plummeted. In 2013, no chicks fledged from any nests throughout England and, while the situation improved in 2014 and 2015, the harrier’s breeding status is still critical. The Government, and conservation organisations, has published a recovery plan designed to restore viable breeding populations of hen harriers in Bowland and other areas where they should be breeding.
Bowland Brewery has stepped in to support the RSPB conservation efforts and agreed to donate a proportion of the proceeds from the sale of every pint of Hen Harrier sold across the bar and every bottle sold through retailers to fund the RSPB’s hen harrier conservation projects.
£0.01 from each pint of Hen Harrier sold and £0.01 from each Hen Harrier bottle sold will be donated to the RSPB, a registered charity in England and Wales, number 207076, and in Scotland, number SC037654.
£2 from each Bowland Brewery/RSPB beer gift pack sold will be donated to the RSPB, a registered charity in England and Wales, number 207076, and in Scotland, number SC037654
The initial agreement is based on a 2-year term with the brewery committing to a minimum donation of £5000 per year.
James Warburton, owner of Bowland Brewery said: “The hen harrier is a living symbol of Bowland Brewery’s intimate connection with the landscape where we produce our beers.
“The very real prospect that this beautiful bird of prey may disappear from the skies above the Forest of Bowland is unthinkable. That’s why we are committing to donate a significant sum of money each year to safeguard the future of one Bowland’s most iconic residents.
“By buying Hen Harrier by the pint or in bottles, locals and visitors alike will be making a positive contribution to hen harrier conservation in Bowland – and ultimately helping the population to grow.”
Peter Robertson, RSPB Regional Director for Northern England, said: “With the Government now fully committed to reversing the fortunes of this magnificent bird of prey, we hope that hen harriers will enjoy a successful breeding season this year and that people will be able to see them flying around Bowland and beyond, as well as enjoy a pint of the beer they have inspired.”
Bowland Brewery has similar ambitions for its flagship beer – and James Warburton hopes the more widespread availability of Hen Harrier nationwide will help spread the message about the plight of this beautiful but endangered raptor.
“We see this partnership with the RSPB as a long term investment in securing the future of the hen harrier,” said Mr Warburton. “While our first priority is to protect and nurture the local harrier population, I would be delighted if – in 10 years’ time – we could say we helped establish viable populations of hen harriers on uplands across Northern England.”
The RSPB is Europe’s largest conservation organisation, with more than a million members. For more information about the Society’s Hen Harrier conservation schemes, go to: www.rspb.org.uk
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Restoring the Ford over the Roeburn

The river Roeburn ford on the farm was washed away during the floods in December. Luckily, one of our neighbour’s runs an environmental ground works business and in no time at all has restored the crossing. Hope you enjoy the video that Rod made as muc…

Peregrines in the Forest of Bowland

UPDATE: Peregrines in the Forest of Bowland finally brought down by prejudice and misguided politics

Update 26-03-2016 : The list gets longer
Based upon information received last night, we are currently investigating claims sent to us by a concerned Bowland raptor worker that our list of sites was missing 3 peregrine territories he believes are also abandoned. We have now checked out one of these sites and the information has proved valid. Any subsequent additional abandoned sites we are able to verify will be added in RED to our existing list. Any sites discovered to have been reoccupied this season will be changed to GREEN.
We would like to think our treatment of wildlife has improved since 1947 when the first recorded pair of breeding Peregrine falcons located in the Forest of Bowland were shot and their clutch of 4 eggs destroyed by estate gamekeepers. The reality is the situation today on England’s moorland uplands where red grouse are shot is now much worse than it was all those years ago. Throughout a majority of these moorland areas, peregrines and hen harriers are becoming more conspicuous each season by their almost total absence from these regions..

Dodo
The most suitable logo that depicts the situation throughout this area designated as an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.’ 

In the spring of 2009 seventeen occupied peregrine territories were recorded by licensed members of the North West Raptor Group in the Forest of Bowland. One year later, in 2010 Natural England, (the Government’s Wildlife Advisor on the Natural Environment) with-held licences which they had previously issued permitting the group to monitor and protect peregrines, including several other threatened raptor species for over thirty five years; just 4 years later fifteen of these historic territories had been found abandoned resulting in the disappearance of the adult falcons..
In 2014 taking into account the unprecedented disappearance of so many Peregrines in such a short time frame from one moorland region, Terry Pickford a founder member of the NWRG (1967) appealed Natural England’s decision asking them to reinstate his license, they refused. The 3 reasons provided by Natural England for their decision were as ridiculous as they were illogical, read below..

  1. Terry was advised other licence holders had been appointed to cover this region. (Terry had worked in Bowland since 1975 protecting peregrines )
  2. Terry’s presence would cause unnecessary disturbance to nests. (What nests, by this time the peregrine was almost extinct in Bowland? )
  3. Issuing Terry with  license would cause duplication of nest visits. (How could anyone duplicate visits to nests that no longer existed? )

Based upon valid arguments contained in Terry Pickford’s licence reinstatement request, amongst other facts, he highlighted that Peregrines and a high number of their nests were being destroyed at an unprecedented rate on estates in Bowland; who’s interests were Natural England really trying to protect by refusing to reinstate his Bowland licence we might ask?
Putting Natural England’s decision into perspective it is important to point out Terry Pickford has held a BTO class ‘A’ ringing permit since 1986 authorising him to ring nestlings at the nests of the 6 schedule 1 raptor species listed in the table below. He currently holds a scientific disturbance licence for Peregrine (Cumbria Only), Goshawk (Lancashire and Cumbria), Red Kite (South Cumbria & Lancashire), Osprey (Cumbria & Lancashire), Barn Owl, Golden Eagle (Scotland). Natural England for some curious reason refuse to issue a Peregrine licence for use in Bowland to any member of the NWRG where persecution is widespread, but on the other hand are happy to support his licence for use in Cumbria where persecution is very low.

  1. Peregrine
  2. Goshawk
  3. Hen Harrier
  4. Red Kite
  5. Osprey
  6. Golden Eagle (Scotland)

Taking into account what has taken place in Bowland since 2010, there can no longer be any doubt it was not the Peregrines or their nests Natural England were concerned about saving. Natural England in reaching their decision refusing to reinstate the license of an extremely experienced and conscientious field worker chose instead to ignore the systematic extermination of a protected species taking place in the Forest of Bowland. In our view this was  a misguided attempt to prevent the embarrassment of estates by covering up the illegal killing of Peregrines and the destruction of historic nest sites taking place with impunity. Keeping Terry Pickford together with the rest of the membership of the NWRG out of Bowland, would in some people’s warped opinion conveniently keep this important criminal activity from becoming public knowledge.
Just in case you are one of the sceptics, we have added details of twenty one Peregrine territories below, which are known to have been abandoned inside the boundary of the Forest of Bowland since 2010. You may feel these desertions are coincidental, but you would be wrong. An RSPB spokesperson writing in the Lancashire Life in 2014 explained these losses, details which were never published within the annual RSPB Crime Report Figures as even suspicious, were the result of climate change and the lack of suitable prey, plus possibly some persecution. Well the RSPB would know because they are paid to protect raptors inside the Forest of  Bowland.

22 Forest of Bowland Peregrine territories confirmed abandoned as of this week. 

United Utilities:

  1. Trough Bank, (3 alternate sites abandoned)
  2. Burn Fell (3 alternate sites abandoned)
  3. Lythe Fell, (3 alternate sites abandoned)
  4. Langden Head, (2 alternate sites abandoned)
  5. Brennand Fell, (3 alternate sites abandoned)
  6. Bleadale,  (3 alternate sites abandoned)
  7. Burnslack Fell, (1 site recorded, used once before being abandoned)
  8. Hareden, (1 site recorded, found abandoned 20th March 2016)
  9. Grindleton Fell. (1 site recorded containing 2 chicks. 1 chick shot. 2nd chick observed on wing one mile from nest) Shoot closed down. No charges brought following police investigation into actions of tenant gamekeeper.
Abbeystead and Littledale
  1. Threaphaw Fell, (Nesting Ledge Destroyed)
  2. Marshaw Fell, (1 site Nesting Ledge Destroyed, 2 additional sites abandoned)
  3. Hawthornthwaite Fell, (3 additional sites abandoned)
  4. Catshaw Greave, ( site abandoned, traps and grit trays placed close to nests)
  5. Foxdale Beck, (3 alternate sites each abandoned)
  6. Mallowdale Pike, (In 2010, 2 nestlings disappeared, site abandoned ever since)
  7. Tarnbrook Fell, (Nesting Ledge Destroyed prior to 2010)
Bleasdale
  1. Grizedale Fell, (Nesting site on ground burnt out)
  2. Luddock Fell, (Nesting site on ground burnt out)
  3. Bleasdale Moor, (Clutch of 3 eggs disappeared within one day of nest being located 2015, site now abandoned)
Greenbank
  1. Greenbank Fell, (3 additional sites abandoned)(Clutches of Eggs disappeared, 2006, 2007, also in 2013, 14. (Site abandoned since single male peregrine disappeared in 2015.)
Cloughton Moor.
  1. Cloughton Quarry, Nesting ledge destroyed 2015, suspected clutch of eggs disappeared in 2014. ( Site found abandoned March 2016)
Cow Ark.
  1. Birket Fell, (Nesting Ledge destroyed in 2010/11 site abandoned)

Hen Harriers on Bowland © Raptor Politics

What surprises await our threatened raptors on red grouse moors in 2016?

Will the 2016 breeding season be worse or better for ‘protected raptors like the hen harrier and peregrine that have the misfortune to venture onto moorland in northern England where red grouse are shot for sport? We would like to think the situation will improve this season, but we remain pessimistic based upon last year’s disappearances of hen harriers and peregrines from areas classified as SSSi’s and SPA’s in Lancashire’s Forest of Bowland and at Geltsdale in the northern Pennines. The lack of any contingency plans for dealing with last season’s hen harrier catastrophe was unfortunate and hopefully the mistakes made will not be repeated once again for a second season.

Hen Harrier Logo
This depiction of a hen harrier remains the proud logo for the Forest of Bowland AONB, despite the almost total eradication of successful nesting hen harrier on all but one estate.


Last year a number of gas guns were strategically installed on moorland in southern Scotland and on one estate adjoining the RSPB’s Geltsdale reserve where they appear to have been used to cause maximum disturbance to hen harriers by frightening them away before settling on moorland to breed. One pair of harriers regularly observed last spring on the Croglin estate were persuaded to up sticks crossing the boundary fence onto the RSPB’s Geltsdale Nature Reserve where they eventually managed to lay a clutch of eggs. Disappointingly the nest and eggs were eventually abandoned by the female hen harrier after her mate failed to return from a hunting trip he had undertaken onto the adjoining grouse moor at Croglin.

Male-hen-Harrier-web
One of the missing Male Hen Harrier photographed in the Forest of  Bowland on its way to hunt for food on an adjoining estate.

Several hen harrier nests in 2015 established on the United Utilities estate in the Forest of Bowland, collectively estimated to contain as many as twenty five eggs, were abandoned after 4 male hen harriers failed to return to their territories after they had gone in search of prey to feed their respective female mates. The disappearance from English grouse moors of so many male hen harriers in one season clearly demonstrated this was a well planned and executed new strategy implemented to ensure the failure of nests and the impossibility of ever tracing those criminals responsible.  In our view because of the success of this illegal scheme last year, there is a very strong possibility this untraceable hen harrier cleansing methodology is likely to be adopted once again this season, but over a much wider moorland area in northern England, and possibly even in parts of Scotland.
In in a recent comment posted on Martin Harper’s blog, it was suggested to the RSPB the Society should this season consider the implementation of suitable contingency plans designed to deal with a repeat of last year’s criminal activity i.e., the licensed collection of all abandoned clutches of  hen harrier eggs before they go cold following the disappearance of male hen harriers, placing rescued eggs into suitable incubators.
hen-harrier-sat-tag-01In a second comment posted on Raptor Politics it was suggested by Terry Pickford any eggs rescued from abandoned harrier nests this season should be placed under the control of a competent and experienced captive breeding establishment where the rescued eggs could be incubated professionally. Any eggs that hatched could then be hacked into the wild in line with DEFRA’s unpopular brood management proposals in the south of England by experienced and trained professionals who deal with captive bred birds of prey for a living. Terry explained the rationale behind his controversial suggestion in this way; we know the reasons why DEFRA would never sanction the reintroduction of fledged hen harriers on grouse moors in the north of England, these birds would never be welcomed by estates or their gamekeepers quickly disappearing presumed to have been shot. All hen harrier chicks produced must each be fitted with a satellite tag before being hacked into the wild in the south of England. Now the important part according to Terry; these harriers must ALL be tracked to establish what happens to them after fledging. If any or all the harriers make their way back onto grouse moors in the north of England and survive for more than eighteen months or longer, this may establish DERFA’s plans are worth more consideration. On the other hand if a majority of hen harriers released in the south make their way north onto grouse moors then subsequently disappear along with their trackers, this would clearly establish the futility of DEFRA’s brood manipulation proposals once and for all.
What ever happens to breeding hen harriers this year on England’s northern uplands, we support Terry Pickford’s suggestion. Making the best use of all hen harriers raised in captivity obtained from abandoned rescued eggs is well worth exploring in the way he has suggested. Utilising abandoned eggs rescued which then hatch and then released reduces the pressure on other dwindling hen harrier populations elsewhere.
Bowland Eagle Owls

eagle owl web-1

Finally it has been brought to our notice by one of our followers that a territorial pair of eagle owls, for a second season, has been located in the Forest of Bowland. We were informed information of the existence of the pair was posted two weeks ago by Chrissie Harper on her Facebook page, attached here. Chrissie, responsibly made no reference to where these birds were established in Bowland, but asked all her followers on FaceBook to support her ‘Save and Protect the Bowland Eagle Owls Campaign .’ A report on Eagle Owls in England pointed out that the eagle owls in Bowland in particular had been subjected to irresponsible disturbance at their nesting sites and was one of the main cause of territories being abandoned.

Eagle-Owl-Found-2-June
Abandoned Eagle Owl Nest 2013 Forest of Bowland

Last year a local Bowland resident contacted Raptor Politics informing us that last spring he had witnessed three wardens tasked with protecting eagle owls inside Bowland visiting an occupied eagle owl nest possibly containing eggs. We understand shortly after the visit had been carried out the nest was known to have been deserted. For those of you that are not aware of the scientific advice regarding eagle owl behaviour and nest visits be aware: Eagle owl nests should on no account be visited either prior to eggs being laid, when eggs are contained inside a nest, or when the nest contains small chicks. Sadly this accepted official advice is all too often disregarded in the Forest of  Bowland.

Eagle-Owl-Whitendale-Valley
Second Abandoned Eagle Owl Nest 2013 Forest of Bowland

It seems strange that when it comes to licensed visits to all English hen harrier nests official approval from Natural England to do so must first be obtained, even when visiting harrier nests in Bowland. Why then when visiting an eagle owl nest which is likely to result in the nest being abandoned are these visits encouraged?
Related Articles
Legal Loopholes being used to deter raptors from settling on moorland to breed
A fourth male hen harrier reported missing from an active nest in the northern Pennines 
Natural England hen harrier satellite tracking programme results 
The not so mysterious disappearance of England’s lost Hen Harriers
Raptor persecution in our modern society, a symbol of a feudal system of Raptor Management

Flooding and Solutions

The recent devastating floods have highlighted some problems with land management . Here, Rod    Everett’s article, describes causes and possible natural solutions where we work with, rather than        agai…

A Play for the Flooding Victims of Calder Valley courtesy of Treshnish Wildlife blog

 

The UK government petitions website has recently added a  feature whereby you can open a map and see the numbers of people who signed the petition in each constituency. The map for Mark Avery’s petition to ban driven grouse moors had a bright red patch in the centre of mainland Britain. That constituency, Calder Valley, had nearly three times the signatures of the next highest constituency High Peak. The other constituencies were clustered below High Peak.
To illustrate how tightly clustered below High Peak they were, the next highest was Isle of Wight with only 3 signatures less and Argyll and Bute which was 31st in the league table and only 58 signatures less than High Peak.

Calder Valley, you might think, isn’t that the Hebden Bridge area which was flooded at least 4 times in the last 4 years? You would be right, that Calder valley.
So why this massive surge in support from this one constituency?
It’s a complicated story especially because it involves the law and the shroud of mystery which surround government (no one can seriously consider Natural England an independent wildlife watchdog any more) (see here).

Walshaw Moor
A political thriller / tragedy / black comedy / political satire / Dickensesque / Kafkaesque / Futuristic science fiction (accidentally transported through a time warp into the here and now). Oh, I don’t know you decide.

The stage is set on Walshaw Moor, a 6,500-acre grouse shooting estate upstream of Hebden Bridge and is part of the South Pennine Moors SAC, SPA and SSSI conservation sites. In conservation terms a Royal Flush.
Principal players: [All characters are fictitious and any similarity with persons living or dead is purely co-incidental, except of course our intrepid reporter Hassein and his grandfather.]
1) Richard Bannister, landowner of Walshaw Estate and retail tycoon
2) Natural England
3) Richard Benyon, Minister for the Environment and grouse moor owner.
Minor players of no worth:
a) the residents of the Calder Valley
b) Moorland habitat
c) Democracy
d) Global Warming
Act I, Scene 1
In 2005, Walshaw Moor Estate was successfully prosecuted by English Nature for building a track and dumping spoil on protected habitat, and the Court ordered the Estate to restore the damage.’ (1)
Act I Scene 2
‘In 2010 Natural England were investigating unconsented damage, and had started separate legal proceedings against Walshaw Moor Estate to modify old, ambiguous consents which allowed damaging activities such as intensive burning on blanket bog. Natural England also decided to prosecute the Estate on no less than 43 grounds of alleged unconsented damage to European and national protected sites. The sheer number of alleged breaches (track construction across moors including converting a stream to a track, drainage of peat bog, installing grouse butts, damage to habitats from vehicle use), together with the Estate’s previous conviction and lack of a voluntary offer to restore or mitigate the damage, demonstrate the seriousness of the situation.’ (1)
[The Audience is on tenterhooks. The suspense is palpable, is this the final nail in the coffin for intensive grouse moors?]

Act II, Scene 1
‘In March 2012, Natural England and the Walshaw Moor Estate announced that all legal actions had ceased and that they had come to a settlement. The settlement included dropping all the prosecutions without any restoration and agreeing to a new consent that allows existing infrastructure (including the tracks, butts and some of the drainage that were the subject of the prosecution) to be maintained, and permits burning of blanket bog to continue. Natural England is due to revisit around 100 management consents for moorland habitats over the coming years, and the Walshaw Moor settlement will set an unavoidable precedent to aim low.’ (1)

Interval.
As the audience enters the foyer, the back slapping of the grouse shooting lobby can hardly be heard over the silent hum of shock emanating from the RSPB and conservation bodies.
As the shocked and celebrants alike swill back their doubles at the bar an announcement comes over the tannoy.
Acts III and 1V have been cancelled’. No explanation is given.
Mutterings from the bar are over-heard by our intrepid reporter Hassein, who has been sent on an urgent fact finding mission by his grandfather.
‘I hate these French surrealistic endings’
”Is there going to be a sequel?’
‘Yes but who done it?’
‘Was it a parody of a banana republic?’
Delegates of the Republic of Banana were overheard to say ”We could learn a thing or two here. Now we can cut down the rain forest ‘legally”
Mafia dons were also stunned into dumb admiration. The only words overheard heard amongst all the kissing were ‘Forget About It’
Later that year the script rights were bought up by another company and the sequel did in fact occur but with different players. It was rumoured that actors from original play had been institutionalized but whether to a mental hospital, prison or the deepest dungeons of DEFRA, only a FOI request can tell.

Son of Walshaw Moor
A Farce

Principal players:
1) RSPB
2) Natural England
3) European Commission
4) Richard Benyon, Minister for the Environment and grouse moor owner.
5) DEFRA
6) Mark Avery
7) The Guardian
8) George Monbiot
Same Minor players really still not worth mentioning (who were they again?).
With additional minor players of no consequence including.
1) European Habitats Directive
2) European Birds Directive
Act I, Scene 1
Oct 2012 the RSPB submitted a formal complaint to the European Commission regarding Natural England’s dealings with the Walshaw Moor Estate. (1)

Act I, Scene 2
In 2012 Hebden Bridge resident’s campaign Ban the Burn wrote
Natural England invest[ed] over £1 million pounds in the case….To add insult to injury, it is now in the public domain that the landowner will receive “Higher Level Stewardship” totalling £2,504,668.08. (That’s about 5 times as much as is in the Calder Valley flood recovery fund!). ‘
[‘Anarchists’ heckles a famous unnamed cricketer from the balcony]
Act II, Scene 1
Inglorious by Mark Avery published which includes Freedom of Information requests showing the heavy lobbying of Benyon by his mates in the Moorland Association and their ludicrous but hilarious claims. Buy It! With umpteen FOI requests we are no further forward in knowing why DEFRA / NE made a complete about turn and even a reversal of policy on Walshaw.
Act III, Scene 1
Repeat of Act I, Scene 2, same location, Hebden Bridge, rolled forward to 2015.
Act III, Scene 2
Drainage ditch damage on Walshaw Moor were supposed to be restored and paid for by who, not the culprits but the taxpayer. In 2016, some at least, are still there.
Act III, Scene 3
The shooting lobby suffer from collective amnesia regarding The Heather and Grass Burning Code of 2007 agreed on by DEFRA, NE, Moorland Association, Country Land and Business Association (CLA), the National Farmers Union, the Heather Trust and the National Gamekeepers’ to restrict burning on peatland with The Heather and Grass Burning Code of 2007
There should be a strong presumption against burning sensitive areas. Doing so may permanently damage the environmental interest of the land and may be unlawful. In special circumstances, the advantages of burning on sensitive areas may outweigh the disadvantages. If you feel a sensitive area on your land falls into this category, you may wish to contact Natural England for advice.’
Mark Avery continues ‘The code goes on to make it clear that peat bogs, including blanket bogs, raised bogs etc should not be burned unless in line with a management plan agreed with Natural England‘.
Act III, Scene 4
Richard Benyon, DEFRA and NE are shown to have amnesia regarding his previous statements on moorland carbon storage. On the value of peat bogs for carbon storage.
RSPB on burning and peat moorland protection here and several here.
Act IV, scene 1
Walshaw is not an isolated case. NE gave consent to burn on 127 English bogs which the taxpayer is paying for through Higher Level Schemes (HLS), 11 of which are on highly protected habitats (SACs and SPAs).
Act V, Scene 1
Large screen behind stage projects psychedelic image of Cathy running across the moors. Then director shouting ‘cut’ as Cathy shouts ‘Oh Heathcliffe’ and falls into a drainage ditch or is it a grouse butt (Walshaw Moor  and here, and here).
The End.
Critics were lukewarm verging on icy.
‘Hang about what kind of ending is that? I want my money back’.
‘Oh not another French ending.’
‘Rubbish’
‘Pah, obviously not an Agatha Christie.’
‘Why did DEFRA, NE drop the case? It is very unclear and full of poor story lines and unsolved threads or were they red herrings? Was it a poor legal case? That seems illogical since £1 million had already been spent on the case and NE must have known all the possibilities before the case. Nothing changed regarding the case itself. So it couldn’t have been legal.’
‘Looks like a case for the The Girl with a Red Grouse Tattoo’.
Others were more positive.
‘That Richard Benyon chap deserves an Olivier Award. What else has he been in, I’d never heard of him?’
That view was challenged by an anonymous source with only one knee cap who claimed ‘Benyon just played Keyser Söze from The Usual Suspects.’ The source, later seen in a wheelchair, mysteriously withdrew his claim.
Epilogue.
Hassein faithfully reported these events back to his grandfather. After listening carefully, with tears running down his face, his grandfather embraced his Hassein fondly and then they both broke into a good belly-laugh and headed off to a new planet to see if anyone else was doing better.
They promised to each other to return in 10,000 years to see if these beings has learnt anything by then.

Land Art on the Roeburn by Richard Schilling

This Autumn the River Roeburn was visited by Richard Schilling who left these wonderful sculptures Richard’s sculpture of leaves and rocks down near the quarry (photo Rod Everett)(Photo Rod Everett)The fast flowing Roeburn under the gorge (photo Rod …

Chris Packham on Hen Harriers

We’re passionate about the plight of Hen Harriers, particularly in the Forest of Bowland,where we live. They are at dangerously low levels, close to extinction in England due to persecution. Watch here for Chris Packham’s brilliant speech on Hen Harrie…

Hen Harrier Day

Not many people will know that the Hen Harrier is critically endangered with approximately 4 breeding pairs in England and slightly more in double figures in Scotland. To highlight the plight of this beautiful bird, many Hen Harrier days took place aro…

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Natural Beekeeping on the farm

We were very lucky to be given 2 colonies from Aaron and John, local beekeepers who practice natural beekeeping–allowing the bees to build honey combs without a rigid structure. Because of the cold, long spring they have to be fed at the moment as the…