Peak District National Park Authority responds to decoy HH video

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.

Fake Hen Harrier (1) - Copy

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.

11 Responses to “Peak District National Park Authority responds to decoy HH video”

  1. April 29, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    I got what i thought was a fairly good response from the police after i initially slammed them for the first gloss over and asked not very politely why there has been no surveillance or visit to gamekeepers.

    The second e-mail (i didn’t ask the results of his visit because i’m almost certain he can’t comment on that):

    Directed surveillance requires the appropriate authorisation. The Police are governed by legislation which ensures the proportionate use of covert resources.
    I personally visited the estate staff in question.
    From a personal perspective I care deeply about the issue of bird of prey persecution that sadly still blights our countryside. Within the scope of my work within Derbyshire Constabulary I will all I can to address the issue.
    Kind regards

    Darren Belfield
    Police Sergeant 266
    Operational Support
    Force Operational Planning
    Derbyshire Constabulary
    Wyatts Way
    DE5 3SU

    • April 29, 2016 at 8:40 pm

      Later mulling over his reply i thought it strange that in 1990 it was common place to set up video cameras at Peregrine nests. My sister had Peregrines nesting in an old quarry about 100m from her house and some NGO i think it was the RSPB came to install a video camera. It was set up i think more on an off-chance of catching someone stealing eggs because it was about 1km from a village, in the Forest of Bowland but no one specifically was being targeted as far as we knew.
      Did surveillance laws for everyone except raptor criminals change whist i wasn’t looking?

  2. 3 Simon Tucker
    April 29, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    I would think more of the BBC if they had featured it in one of their news bulletins.

  3. April 29, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    That is a pretty good BBC article. The Moorland Association look like absolute fools.
    We should be paying them and Andrew Gilruth for comments like that.

    • 5 Marco McGinty
      April 30, 2016 at 12:56 am

      It’s just a pity that the BBC article was tucked away in a regional section of the website, and didn’t manage to make the national news – unlike the Ten O’clock News on 29 April 2016, when the organisation effectively promoted canned hunting in Africa as valuable conservation work. I wonder if that has anything to do with William the Parasite forcing a similar message not so long ago.

    • 6 Jack Snipe
      April 30, 2016 at 11:17 pm

      Recently I have submitted a number of comments to the Game & Wildlife Conservation [sic] Trust e-newsletter in response to some ecological and ornithological misunderstandings, being careful to be polite and helpful, only to have them deleted. So it appears they’re not so transparent with criticism as Raptor Persecution Scotland. Interesting, but not surprising. I’ll never understand why the RSPB is so cosy with that bunch of wildlife slaughtering idiots.

  4. 7 Ed Douglas
    April 29, 2016 at 4:10 pm

    The national parks are essentially landscape designations enforced by special planning powers. They were set up for that purpose. They need reform, to include statutory biodiversity targets. That’s what most of the public assume a national park should be doing anyway.

  5. 9 I C T
    April 29, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    The National Trust cannot be trusted. It cannot be trusted while it allows grouse shooting on its land.

  6. 10 Adam
    April 29, 2016 at 10:54 pm

    I’m not familiar with the legislation in England & Wales, but in Scotland areas are designated as national parks under the National Parks (Scotland) Act 2000. According to this Act the “general purpose of a National Park authority is to ensure that the National Park aims are collectively achieved in relation to the National Park in a co-ordinated way” (s 9(1)). http://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2000/10/contents

    Both NPAs in Scotland have ‘planning functions’ (but for some strange reason the functions exercisable by Cairngorms NPA are much more restricted).

    “A national parks authority may provide advice, training and conduct research in respect of matters to which its functions relate. It also has the power, if authorised by the Scottish Ministers, to compulsorily purchase any land situated within the national park. In order to protect the natural and cultural heritage of the national park and to prevent damage to the land, the national parks authorities may make byelaws:
    (1) to regulate the lighting of fires;
    (2) to prohibit the depositing of litter;
    (3) for the prevention of nuisance;
    (4) to regulate the use of vehicles and recreational activities.” (Stair Memorial Encyclopaedia, Environment Reissue para 824)
    NPAs, similarly to local authorities, can also make ‘management rules’ under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 in order “to regulate (a) the use of; and (b) the conduct of persons while on or in any land or premises which is owned, occupied or managed by the authority or is otherwise under their control and to which the public have access, whether on payment or not.”

    There is a good overview on SNH’s old website: http://www.snh.org.uk/strategy/natparks/sr-npc02e.asp

  7. 11 Secret Squirrel
    April 30, 2016 at 3:05 pm

    National Parks are nothing more than marketing organisations. Planning decisions are taken in line with that, as are by-laws.

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