Tag Archives: defra

Badgers moving goalposts? It’s the government that’s playing football with badger cull policy

Dead badger probably roadkillThe badger cull has always been controversial. It has set wildlife groups and animal lovers against farmers. Many argue that it is being pursued against scientific opinion. And now the cull is struggling to meet its targets. The shooters in Somerset should have delivered 1,015 cadavers but so far they have piled up just 600.

What is going wrong? Defra chief Owen Paterson told the BBC: “the badgers have moved the goalposts.” Shame on badgers for not cooperating with a scheme to kill them!

This trial is not about increasing our scientific knowledge of bovine TB in the badger population. If that was the case, the government would be testing the carcases for TB. It is not. We will never know whether the dead brocks were disease carriers.

The trial is about the efficacy of shooting. And the result is that it is not efficacious.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 25 Comments

Reshuffle – Lib Dems demoted at Defra as Heath axed

David Heath has been sacked as Minister of State for Agriculture and Food at Defra. In his place is North Cornwall Lib Dem MP Dan Rogerson, but at the more junior position of Parliamentary Under Secretary.

Dan Rogerson

In his letter to Heath, Nick Clegg said:

I am very aware of the pressure on you within Defra over the last year, and I am particularly grateful to you for the clarity and objectivity you have brought to issues of animal and plant disease, your defence of environmental issues, your commitment to agriculture and rural areas, and the development of new and exciting policies to enhance our forests.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 30 Comments

Baroness Kate Parminter writes…We need more research and public engagement before agreeing to GM crops

The speech today by Owen Paterson, Secretary of State for the Environment makes it clear that he is intent on promoting the use of GM crops in Britain – and to do so by acting as a cheerleader for an industry which has consistently promised much over the last twenty years and yet failed to deliver.   It follows hard on the heels of that of the Science Minister, David Willetts, as the latest attempt by the Tories to go beyond the Coalition Government’s agreed policy on GM crops.

Liberal Democrats are not in principle opposed to GM, but we believe no …

Posted in News | Also tagged | 18 Comments

David Heath MP reports back on the CITES conference and global agreement to protect sharks and manta rays

Much of my work in the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs centres on the last two parts of the title, so it’s good just occasionally to be able to make a difference on the other part of the agenda, the environment. I had just such an opportunity last week when I represented the United Kingdom at the meeting of CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

I was in Bangkok, Thailand, leading a trade mission on behalf of British meat and livestock to the biggest trade fair in Asia. But the timing meant that …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 1 Comment

How to damage rural communities in several easy stages…

Yesterday, I waxed unlyrical about the effects of government on rural life, and today, I want to look at some of those effects…

The Department for Education, under Michael Gove, has changed the funding arrangements for schools, with unfortunate side effects for rural schools. This means that schools such as the one I visited recently in Norfolk will lose grant funding, and be forced to lay off staff as a result. Given that rural counties already receive less grant per pupil than …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | Leave a comment

Opinion: Badger cull delay is good news for Liberal Democrats

Owen Paterson’s announcement on the delay of the badger cull is good news for badgers and for the Liberal Democrats.

The ill-conceived policy may have had the backing of significant interest groups such as the NFU – Paterson repeatedly acknowledged their efforts in his speech – but it was always going to be difficult to present and ‘sell’ this policy to a nation with a strong affection to its environment and wildlife, especially after the debacle of the proposal to sell off the country’s forests.Combine public opinion with the …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 18 Comments

Kill the cull – it’s bad for badgers, science and the Government

A new term and the Government looks set to walk straight into a public relations disaster. In a bid to ‘manage’ the spread of bovine TB, Defra will commence a badger cull starting in two areas of the South West – West Somerset/Taunton Deane and in the Forest of Dean/Tewkesbury. It is not just the pictures of indiscriminate shooting and maiming of an icon of the British countryside which will be so damaging for the Government; it is the fact that the cull is based on flawed science.  This is an ill-conceived policy.

The decision by Defra, one of the few …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 34 Comments

Baroness Parminter writes… Food for thought

Defra has today launched its Hospitality and Food Service Agreement. This is a new voluntary UK-wide agreement with caterers, pubs, hotels and restaurants to reduce food and packaging waste by 5% and to increase the rate of recycling, composting or anaerobic digestion to 70% (it’s currently around 47%). While we as Liberal Democrats should welcome this and recognise the positive environmental impact it will have, the Government could and should be going much further on food.

Food production and consumption play a key role in public health, the UK economy, and in enhancing natural capital. Everyone should have access to …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 12 Comments

Baroness Parminter writes… Protecting buzzards

Many of you will have seen the news yesterday that common buzzards may be at risk following anecdotal evidence from the shooting industry that buzzards, which usually scavenge dead animals, may be eating some of the 40 million young pheasants that are released each year for shooting.

My colleagues on the Lib Dem Defra backbench Committee and I have been very clear that we oppose measures that would harm a protected bird of prey that’s only now recovering after decades of decline, and we’ve been making this case to Defra ministers. We believe the focus should be on tackling …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 12 Comments

Opinion: the Lib Dems should have have more influence over the environment, food and rural affairs

Recently, I have started taking an interest in the government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). My MP is one of their ministers. He seems to spend an awful lot of time on marine affairs, coastal defences and the natural environment. So, as a good citizen, I feel I ought to take an interest. For example, recently, I read through all the questions and answers at Thursday’s the DEFRA session in the House of Commons. Well done Andrew George and Duncan Hames for speaking. But, apart from their three queries, it was a Tory controlled zone.

DEFRA is unusual …

Posted in News | 1 Comment

Tony Greaves writes: seeing the wood for the trees

Why did the Government drop its proposals for the Forestry Commission (FC) and the forests and woodlands it manages? I thought it would happen but I was astonished by the speed of it. It comes down to three things. An ill-considered and foolish policy. Incompetent presentation. And a stupendously successful and largely under the radar campaign which burst through with stunning effect.

The Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) included a target of £100million from selling around 15% of the national forestry estate in England. This is the most that can be sold under existing legislation. But over the summer DEFRA Ministers …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 9 Comments

Canal cuts are nuts, says Huhne

WebsiteA new campaign against Defra’s environmental budget cuts, which has meant a 7% cut to British Waterways funds in the last year with the loss of 180 jobs, has been announced.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Shadow Environment Secretary, Chris Huhne MP said:

“These redundancies show Defra’s budget cuts beginning to bite. Our canal networks will suffer as a result, together with a whole range of environmental and rural services.

“These cuts put our canals and waterways under threat, impacting on a wide range of users including boat owners, holidaymakers, anglers and ramblers. Canals are also …

Posted in News | Also tagged | Leave a comment



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 3rd Sep - 1:01am
    This has the potential to get nasty and I don't like what I'm seeing. The UK and the EU need to be careful not to...
  • User AvatarJoe Bourke 3rd Sep - 12:31am
    John Dunn, Ukraine has a great deal to lose as a consequence of deteriorating relations with Russia and has sought to maintain its export trade...
  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 3rd Sep - 12:04am
    Liberals should continue arguing unfashionable causes, whilst not necessarily putting them in the manifesto. When it comes to Sterlingisation and the EU: I think Scotland...
  • User AvatarFrankBooth 2nd Sep - 11:55pm
    Tim13 - you suggested it was the cue for rump UK and Scotland to join the Euro. You'd have to deal with the implacably opposed...
  • User AvatarT-J 2nd Sep - 11:41pm
    OK, it's all very well and good to guarantee more powers, but I just don't have enough confidence in most of the people issuing that...
  • User AvatarDavid G 2nd Sep - 11:37pm
    +1 to what Martin said. The argument that current EU law or opinion doesn't allow something is pretty pathetic - the law will just have...