24
Dec
10

MSP asks questions about delayed Hen Harrier Framework report

A switched-on MSP has recognised the importance of the Hen Harrier Framework report and its relevance to the current WANE Bill debates,  and has raised formal questions in the Scottish Parliament about its delayed publication.

On December 21st 2010, MSP Peter Peacock (Labour: Highlands & Islands) lodged the following two written questions:

To ask the Scottish Executive what the (a) timetable and (b) launch date is for the publication and promotion of the hen harrier conservation framework report by the Scottish Raptor Monitoring Scheme partnership;

To ask the Scottish Executive whether the contents of the hen harrier conservation framework report have been made available to the Rural Affairs and Environment Committee and, if not, whether the report will be published before the Parliament has completed consideration of the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Bill.

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/business/businessBulletin/bb-10/bb-12-22e.htm

Parliamentary questions can be asked by any MSP to the Scottish Government/Executive. The questions provide a means for MSPs to obtain factual and statistical information from the Scottish Government. Written questions must be answered within 10 working days (20 working days during recess). Peter Peacock’s questions are due for answer on Thursday 27 January 2011.

Peter Peacock is no stranger to the WANE Bill, as he is a member of the Rural Affairs & Environment Committee (the committee tasked to consider the finer details of the proposed Bill). He has emerged as one of the leading MSPs trying to introduce measures to ensure that those responsible for illegal raptor persecution are brought to justice for their crimes. He obviously recognises that the information contained within the Hen Harrier Framework report could have a strong influence on the outcome of these proposed measures. The report is alleged to contain “damning evidence” about hen harrier persecution in Scotland and its link to grouse moors – evidence that might just persuade MSPs that the time for strong action against these criminal activities is long overdue.

Unsurprisingly, there have been no calls of concern over the delayed publication of the Hen Harrier Framework report from groups with an interest in game shooting. Is it because they already know the extent of the “damning evidence“, and know that the release of this evidence will weaken their stance as they try to oppose measures such as vicarious liability or estate licensing? Below is a link to a news report from The Independent dating back to 2003, where Scottish Gamekeeper’s Association Chairman Alex Hogg seeks licences for gamekeepers to kill hen harriers. But not all hen harriers, of course, only those that are considered to be “problem” birds. The difficulty here is that many gamekeepers consider ALL hen harriers to be “problem” birds (because they eat red grouse and pheasants) – and they’ll kill them whether they have a licence to do so or not – as the contents of the Hen Harrier Framework report will show. Interesting also to note that in 2003 the Scottish Government introduced “tough new legislation to arrest and imprison anybody who poisons, traps or shoots birds of prey“. Nearly eight years later, how effective has that “tough new legislation” been? I’d say totally ineffective, given the pitiful sentences handed out by Sheriffs to people convicted of such crimes.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/gamekeepers-want-to-kill-birds-of-prey-598863.html


3 Responses to “MSP asks questions about delayed Hen Harrier Framework report”


  1. 1 Mike Price
    December 24, 2010 at 10:55 am

    Worth emailing other MSP’s and explaining this reports and its delays.
    It might come to nothing but its always worth trying.
    I’ve sent one off to Roseanne Cunningham as she seems to be up for this fight as well.

    Let’s see how many people we can get behind a push to get the questions answered

    Hope you don’t mind me borrowing text from this site to explain why its so important.

    Dear Mrs Cunningham,

    Could I bring to your attention (incase you were unaware of it) the Delays to the publication of “A Conservation Framework for Hen Harriers in the UK”.

    The Hen Harrier Framework is a scientific study, undertaken by leading scientists, with the aim of providing new insights into factors influencing the distribution and population viability of this species; a species of high conservation concern in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK. The approach is very similar to the much-acclaimed Golden Eagle Framework, which was published in 2008 and demonstrated convincingly that persecution was a major limiting factor for the Scottish golden eagle population. Four of the five authors of the Hen Harrier report were also authors on the Golden Eagle report.

    The main findings of the Hen Harrier Framework are crucial to inform Scottish politicians about the widespread extent of hen harrier persecution, so that they have a fully-informed opinion when they consider the proposed measures to combat wildlife crime as outlined in the WANE Bill. The report carries some highly damning evidence, which is probably why the game-shooting lobby do not want the evidence to surface until after the WANE Bill has passed through Parliament.

    The report was supposed to have been published by SNH almost a year ago, in January 2010, that publishing deadline came and went, and after protracted delays, the next publication date was agreed as 17th December 2010.

    Would it be possible for you to raise the issue in the Scottish Parliament.

    Regards

  2. 2 Dave Dick
    December 24, 2010 at 11:03 am

    This kind of picking away at the civil servants and whoever else is behind this delay is very important….all too easy for a drift into apathy and therefore more killing if reports like this are allowed to slide..

    As I hope Peter Peacock is aware, such reports are only possible using factual information [rather than the deliberately obscuring and destructive comments by McGrigor/Scott and Hume during the WANE debate] gathered by many voluntary raptor workers all over Scotland.

    Good for him ..and nice to see a website giving him a pat on the back…

  3. January 28, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    Official responses from Roseanna Cunningham to Peter Peacock’s questions:

    S3W-38490 – Peter Peacock (Highlands and Islands) (Lab) (Date lodged Tuesday, December 21 2010): To ask the Scottish Executive whether the contents of the hen harrier conservation framework report have been made available to the Rural Affairs and Environment Committee and, if not, whether the report will be published before the Parliament has completed consideration of the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Bill.

    Answered by Roseanna Cunningham (Wednesday, January 19, 2011): The report in question, A conservation framework for hen harriers in the UK, includes data from the Scottish Raptor Monitoring Scheme and other monitoring work. It has been prepared for the UK Joint Nature Conservation Committee and the publication is being co-ordinated by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

    I understand that SNH has arranged meetings for late January 2011 with stakeholders to discuss the science and outcomes of the report. A date for formal publication will be set following these meetings but it is anticipated that report will be published in early 2011.

    S3W 38489 – Peter Peacock (Highlands and Islands) (Lab) (Date lodged Tuesday 21 December 2010): To ask the Scottish Executive what the (a) timetable and (b) launch date is for the publication and promotion of the hen harrier conservation framework report by the Scottish Raptor Monitoring Scheme partnership.

    Answered by Roseanna Cunningham (Wednesday, January 19, 2011): When the report is published, a copy will be made available to the Rural Affairs and Environment Committee. Scottish Natural Heritage have assured me that this will be before the Parliament has completed consideration of the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Bill.


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