The 12th January might yet go down as an important date when it comes to Government action on raptor persecution. On Wednesday the Scottish Parliament's Rural Affairs and Environment Committee supported Stage 2 of the WANE Bill and the clause on vicarious liability it contains. Somewhat predictably John Scott, MSP, was the only voice of dissension, whose objections were robustly described by Roseanna Cunningham ( Minister for the Environment and Climate Change ) as "nonsense". Amendments will now proceed to Stage 3 and, if the Bill is finally adopted it will mean that landowners will be held responsible for activities on their holdings and could be liable for prosecution. The continuing levels of persecution make the possibility of self regulation by shooting interests a complete joke as there is clearly no intention on the part of a certain proportion of landowners to pay any heed to such requests. Sadly they also, collectively, bring into disrepute those landowners and keepers who do make positive conservation efforts and work within the framework of the law.
The debate can actually be viewed on
Coupled with all this is the assurance now made by Scottish Natural Heritage that the Hen Harrier Conservation Framework Report will be published before the Scottish Parliament has completed its considerations of the WANE Bill. Rumours suggest that the report contains utterly damming evidence relating to the levels of raptor persecution and akin activities.
In a wider context, and in my view, it seems a great pity that the awaited report from Natural England on its harrier research over the last ten years can't be hastened on and made public. To see the sad picture raptor persecution presents in modern times, both in England and Scotland, would lend tremendous weight to the overall case for concerted action to be introduced and maintained in the UK as a whole. Given the cutbacks one hears have been applied to Natural England, as part of the austerity measures, I sincerely hope the revelations aren't to be gently set aside for fear of upsetting Tory interests within the ruling coalition and incurring further wrath!!! A few well directed letters to Liberal MP's might not go amiss at an appropriate time.
"And finally", ( another take from Jeff Randall Live.....I do like that programme!). Did you know the US was suffering from a BEDBUGS problem. Way back in September the US Government declared the bedbug invasion was reaching epidemic proportions!! However literal that might be you have to give it to the Americans!! There's even a Bedbug web site where you can view reports relating to hotels all over the States.....see http://www.bedbugreports.com/ for some biting remarks.