Hen Harrier unmeddled brood. Picture: Gordon Yates

The week after subsequent may even see a flurry of exercise on the way forward for pushed grouse taking pictures and Hen Harrier conservation. On Monday 25 January we may even see a Westminster Corridor debate on pushed grouse taking pictures (following one on trespass) and then on Tuesday and Wednesday 26 and 27 January the a lot delayed appeal of the judicial review judgment on brood meddling might be heard.

I say ‘might’ as a result of Westminster Corridor debates are into consideration below the present COVID disaster as these debates solely happen by way of MPs attending in particular person and would you journey from Scotland, Northern Eire, Wales or Yorkshire to London to happen in such a debate when non-essential journey mustn’t happen (completely different guidelines apply in all 4 UK nations)? I’m eager to see this debate happen however one has to say that an e-petition that certified for debate in September 2019 (stet) shouldn’t be pressing in January 2021. Nevertheless, if it does go forward, then the DEFRA minister, presumably Rebecca Pow, may have inquiries to face.

When Ms Pow was final answering questions on grouse moor management in Westminster Corridor (18 November debate on moorland burning) she cheerily mentioned that authorities was dedicated to publishing a peatland restoration technique which might commit to revive 35,000ha of peatland by 2025, and she quipped that was not very far-off – effectively it’s one other two months nearer now and we nonetheless haven’t seen this technique that was promised for 2020. I’m positive that she might be requested whether or not the federal government actually has a method for peatland or whether or not its technique is to keep away from having a method.

And since Ms Pow was final speaking about grouse moors Scotland has determined to usher in controls on grouse taking pictures and moorland burning. Ms Pow might be requested why there was so little exercise south of the border in contrast with a lot north of Hadrian’s Wall. The trustworthy reply is perhaps ‘As a result of the Scottish authorities actually cares whereas we’re solely pretending’.

Ms Pow additionally mentioned again in November that moorlands are a haven for wildlife however she will be able to’t have been considering of that moorland inhabitant the Hen Harrier which is totally protected by regulation however which is ten times as likely to disappear (presumed or known to be dead) on grouse moors than on other habitats.

It’s only due to Raptor Persecution UK’s dogged dedication to flush out what Pure England (we pay their salaries) have identified for months, that we now know that three tagged Hen Harriers from the 2020 English cohort disappeared in northern England approach again in September (a brood-meddled male next to a grouse moor in North Yorkshire on 20 September 2020, another male (with one of the dodgy tags) on a grouse moor in North Yorkshire on 19 September 2020, and a female at an undisclosed roost site (which may or may not have been a grouse moor) in Northumberland on 16 September 2020). Some haven!

Why Pure England has saved these details hidden for therefore lengthy solely they will reply. It would merely be disgrace.

When my enchantment on the legality of brood-meddling of Hen Harriers is heard on the Court docket of Enchantment (alongside the RSPB’s associated enchantment) the three judges won’t be deciding whether or not brood meddling is a good suggestion, nor whether or not it’s working, however whether or not Pure England have been behaving lawfully to licence it with out contemplating options again in January 2018 (stet). Boxing up broods of Hen Harrier and delivery them down the highway to a cage, later to launch them into harmful territory is an unlawful act until licensed. Our case is that Pure England ought to have thought of all options to brood meddling earlier than issuing this licence – options akin to elevated guarding of nests, elevated fines, vicarious legal responsibility, licensing of grouse taking pictures and many different methods ahead earlier than licensing brood meddling. Each the RSPB and I misplaced our authentic challenges as a result of the decide mentioned that brood meddling was a little bit of science. My enchantment hinges on the truth that this so-called experiment could be of no scientific curiosity in any respect besides as a precursor of conservation motion and so options have to be thought of.

No chickens might be counted forward of the courtroom case. First, this enchantment was launched straight after the preliminary judgment in March 2019 and we went to courtroom in March 2020 however that listening to was deserted at lunch on the primary day (a number of days earlier than lockdown belatedly started) as one of many judges was taken sick. And second, the result’s unsure – we’ve an excellent probability of successful (however in all probability an excellent probability of shedding too). There’s all the pieces to play for and I’m grateful to all those that have donated to 2 crowdfunders which obtained us this far (here and here) and additionally to my authorized staff who’ve been merely sensible all through.

Saturday (16 January) will mark the third anniversay of Natural England issuing a brood-meddling licence – these items take fairly a time to be resolved.

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