Monday, 1 December 2014

The Infrastructure Bill And British Wildlife: You Will Want To Know This

This Bill is currently making its way through the House of Commons (second reading due 8th Dec).

According to the Govt's website, it makes provision for :
  • improving the funding and management of major roads
  • streamlining the planning process for major projects
  • protecting infrastructure from invasive plants and animals
  • supporting house building
  • making it easier and cheaper to register land and property
  • helping communities become stakeholders in renewable electricity projects
  • maximising the recovery of oil and gas from the UK continental shelf simplifying underground access procedures for the shale and geothermal energy industries
What this doesn't tell you is that it also (among other things):
  •  Exempts fracking companies from trespass laws
  • Makes the sale of public forests possible (the campaign group 38 degrees raised a hue and cry about this last year and public opinion prevented it from happening)
  • Redefines what a non-native invasive species is
I've been reading about it for a lecture and the invasive plants and animals bit caught my attention. There is an excellent article by George Monbiot on the Guardian website which goes in to this in some detail but I'll summarise it here for you.

Essentially, this Act will re-classify non-native and invasive species as 'any species not ordinarily resident in, or a regular visitor to, Great Britain, making them subject to potential eradication or control.' 

Sound worrying? You bet it is. What it means is that anything which has become extinct in this country in recent years can not, under the provisions of this law, be re-introduced. We all know the state our wildlife is in and where it's heading- extinctions in the coming decades of species that were common 50 years ago is not unthinkable, to combat this, many species that have already been lost to these shores have been successfully reintroduced in recent years. Think Red Kites, or Capercaillies, or even the Large Blue Butterfly, which despite 50 years of effort to save it became extinct in the UK in 1979 and was reintroduced using stocks from Sweden in 1985. It has since recolonised and is doing well, but this would not be allowed under the regulations of the Infrastructure Bill.

It also covers any species listed in schedule 9 (non natives) of the Countryside And Rights Of Way Act, so that means Barn Owls, Chough, Corncrake, Barnacle Goose, Red Kite, Goshawk, and for plants: Alexanders, Three Cornered Garlic and Montbretia, among others. Can you imagine the English countryside without Barn Owls? I can't.

As George Monbiot says: 'Among those in schedule 9 are six native species that have already been re-established in Britain (the capercaillie, the common crane, the red kite, the goshawk, the white-tailed eagle and the wild boar); two that are tentatively beginning to return (the night heron and the eagle owl); and four that have been here all along (the barn owl, the corncrake, the chough and the barnacle goose). All these, it seems, are now to be classified as non-native, and potentially subject to eradication or control.'

It is, as Baroness Parminter (who argued unsuccessfully for changes to the bill) put it: 'a one-way system for biodiversity loss, as once an animal ceases to appear in the wild it ceases to be native.'

I am really struggling to understand this. What possible purpose does it serve? To me it just feels like yet another attack on our wild things from the very people who should be protecting them at a time when they need our help most.

Non-native and invasive species are a hot topic ecologically at the moment, but the truth is that apart from a few well documented species (American Mink, American Signal Crayfish for eg) we don't know enough about non-natives in the UK to really understand their position in our ecosystems. Some of our most-loved trees haven't been here all that long (think Beech and Sycamore), do we uproot them and prevent any more every growing here? It's a nonsense.

I feel a letter to my MP coming on....

I hope that's of some interest to all you wildlife-lovers out there. Makes you wonder what else is being sneaked in under our noses doesn't it?

I'll leave you with a pic of the Small Girl who has a New Coat, because she's had a haircut today and is pseudo-bald and feeling the cold as a result. If only her fur wouldn't get so matted and drive her mad with itchiness we could leave it on.....


Hope all are well?

CT :o)



 

16 comments:

  1. What a worrying development. It makes my head hurt just thinking about it.
    Jean x

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    1. I know, I couldn't believe what I was reading.

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  2. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. So often things get through without everyone being aware of what is proposed. Sarah x

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    1. That's the scary part. I wonder what else has got through that we know nothing about x

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  3. It's infuriating when these things that no-one wants are passed into law. Absolutely infuriating.

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    1. Hopefully this may yet get altered, it has to pass through various stages of readings and committee before it becomes law. Appalling.

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  4. This seems very counterproductive to me!! I can understand something that is doing active damage to another species, but really, Barn Owls.... what damage are they causing for goodness sake. Sometimes I really am amazed at what politicians can come up with. xx

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    1. It does seem utterly absurd. I do wonder whether many of the people who draft these laws know their arse from their elbow, if you'll pardon the expression xx

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  5. Are there any petitions that we can sign?

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    1. Probably a letter/ email to your MP would be best. I don't know if the wildlife trusts have got anything running. I know they have put forward a proposed Act to sort this nonsense out.

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  6. So much for the "greenest govt ever" !!! I saw that article in the Guardian - very very concerned and (yet again!!) hopping mad.:( I try very hard not to think about what will happen to the wildlife of this country if the Conservatives are re-elected. I had better shut up now otherwise I'll be ranting for ever and a day about it all!!

    On a lighter note - Poppy looks very cute in her new coat :)

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    1. Me too. Ridiculous bloody nonsense :o( Have you seen the Wildlife Trusts and RSPB response? Makes interesting reading. x

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  7. So sweet in her coat!

    What a terrifying list of facts CT. SO depressing. Japanese Knotweed, yes, Himalayan Balsam, yes Mink....talking of which, we have the dreaded American kind here for the first time ever...but what on earth are the government thinking of? I despair of all politicians. Have a large drink CT! xx

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    1. Bad news about Mink on Dartmoor Em. They are being slowly brought back under control in other areas. Do you know what your local water vole pop is like as they are the species most often worst affected by Mink? xx

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    2. This is a really important post. I've heard bits and pieces about this bill which just seems crazy to me. Barn owls subject to controll or eradication?! I do write fairly often to my MP - generally about things to do with the environment - and get a standard letter of reply always towing the government line - I really begin to despise her and the lot of them...it is hard to know what to do.
      The picture of Poppy was a necessary pick-me-up. I love her xxxL

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    3. We're very lucky in our MP (much to my surprise as I wasn't sure about her at all to start with). She replies personally to every letter and expresses her own opinion and often follows up at a later date as well. She is a God Send in that regard at least. I haven't emailed her yet re the bill but will do so this weekend and let you know the response. Probably the best thing to do is to get in touch with your local wildlife trust and ask their advice on a course of action.
      Pops has been an absolute doll this week- no carpet moments and utterly affectionate and lovely. A real tonic at the end of a long day :o) Love to Flossy xx

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x