The Peak District National Park Authority has responded to the video of the armed man, with a decoy hen harrier, on a grouse moor within the Peak District National Park.
Sarah Fowler, PDNPA Chief Executive, had initially responded very quickly on Twitter, saying the video was “alarming and suspicious“.
The PDNPA has since published a full statement on its website, as follows:
Our position on the illegal persecution of birds of prey.
“There has been a great deal of comment on social media regarding the illegal persecution of birds of prey in the Peak District National Park.
Without getting into the details of the specific incident that sparked this latest debate, I want to make clear in the strongest possible terms that we are appalled by the persecution of any protected species, whatever the circumstances.
There is never any excuse for this behaviour and we will always work with the police and our other partners to support any investigation. But it is important to point out that we can only take direct action if the persecution takes place on land owned by the National Park Authority not just within the National Park boundary. In fact on land where we own the shooting rights we have not allowed shooting since 1981 allowing agreements to expire. This current incident was not on National Park Authority owned land.
We recently acknowledged the disappointing results of the Peak District Bird of Prey Initiative and we are working with our partners to reverse the fortunes of birds of prey.” Sarah Fowler, Chief Executive, PDNPA.
It came as a bit of a surprise to us that the Peak District National Park Authority doesn’t, actually, have much (any?) authority, at least on this issue. It’s good to hear they don’t permit shooting on land they own, but as that only amounts to 5% of the Peak District National Park it’ll make some difference, but not a lot.
Since reading this statement, we’ve been doing some reading-up on the role and powers of a National Park Authority, and we’re kind of left wondering ‘what’s the point’? Well, there is a point and a role for the PDNPA, but mostly, it seems, in planning. Incidentally, during our recent research we found a fascinating retrospective planning application that relates to some work that has already been carried out on a grouse moor within the PDNP. It highlights the role that the PDNPA does (or could) play in the way these grouse moors are managed, regardless of ownership…but more on that in a different blog.
We also found this amusing news item on the PDNPA website. How the hell they managed to win this award is anyone’s guess. Apparently the Peak District National Park ‘has been monitored to ensure that sensitive environments and species are being properly looked after to preserve wildlife and landscape diversity’. Er, perhaps the judges should have a read of this. It documents the complete failure of the Peak District Bird of Prey Initiative over a number of years. Having seen the video of that armed man on a grouse moor with a decoy hen harrier, it’s not hard to work out where the problem lies.
So it seems, as Mark Avery pointed out yesterday, that it’s now all eyes on the National Trust as the only organisation with any power to take direct action, subject to the findings of their investigation. Their decision on how to respond could have important ramifications. This could get very interesting indeed.
By the way, it was good to see the BBC picked up on the video of an armed man, on a grouse moor, with a decoy hen harrier, and they gave the story significant prominence on the front of their ‘England-News’ website yesterday (here).
The petition to ban driven grouse shooting has passed 33,000 signatures. Is your name on it? Do your friends know about it? Your family? Your colleagues? Don’t assume they know about it – put it in front of them! PETITION HERE.