National Trust: bold or bottling it?

It’s been over a month since the National Trust said they were launching an investigation in to what they described as a “suspicious incident” where an armed man was filmed sitting next to a decoy hen harrier on a National Trust-owned grouse moor in the Peak District National Park.

Fake Hen Harrier (1) - Copy

How’s that investigation going? Given that the National Trust knew about this incident when it was first reported to them in February 2016, they’ve had plenty of time to ask questions of their grouse moor tenant and decide on what action, if any, they will take.

As a result of their investigation, we’re expecting them to do one of two things:

  1. Nothing.
  2. Withdraw the tenancy agreement that allows driven grouse shooting on that moor.

The National Trust has previously been bold about withdrawing shooting leases on land it owns. In 2011 it decided not to renew two of three shooting leases on its Wallington Estate in Northumberland (see here), and in 2012 it terminated the lease on a pheasant shoot on the Polesden Lacey Estate in Surrey (see here).

Will the National Trust be bold in the Peak District National Park? We think they’ve got very strong grounds for pulling the grouse-shooting lease in this instance because the grouse moor in question is part of the Peak District Bird of Prey Initiative – an initiative that has utterly failed in its objective of increasing the populations of breeding raptors in the Dark Peak area of the National Park. Presumably the National Trust’s grouse shooting lease includes a clause that demands cooperation from the tenant to reach that objective and if cooperation isn’t forthcoming, the contract can be considered to have been breached?

Let’s ask the General Manager of the National Trust in the Peak District, Jon Stewart, when we might expect to hear the findings of the National Trust’s investigation. Emails to: jon.stewart@nationaltrust.org.uk

We’re also intrigued as to why no official statement about this incident has been offered by the Peak District Bird of Prey Initiative. We’ve heard from individual member organisations such as the Peak District National Park Authority (see here) and the Moorland Association (see here), but there’s been total silence from the collective  BOP Initiative. Isn’t that strange?

The BOP Initiative is chaired by the Peak District National Park Authority and its ecologist, Rhodri Thomas, is the PDNPA’s representative on the BOP Initiative. We’d like to know how the BOP Initiative intends to respond to the video footage and how this incident will affect the progress of this so-called ‘partnership’? Let’s ask him. Emails to: rhodri.thomas@peakdistrict.gov.uk

7 Responses to “National Trust: bold or bottling it?”

  1. 1 A Walker
    May 30, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    The National Trust are on dangerous ground here. A boycott of their parks would be embarrassing if not costly to their reputation.

    As a publicly owned organisation the public has a right to expect that correct land management practices are used on land owned by the public.

    Hence the Forestry Commission strictly controls predator control, i.e. bans the use of snares

    I am sure the National Trust would be quick enough to act if a egg collector or hare courser had been identified.

    ” Investigation” indeed.

  2. 2 steve macsweeney
    May 30, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    Already conversed with the 2 of the Principals. Finally received an extremely confused reply, so gave up.Its this dogged determination that sets RPUK apart.
    Paint drying by comparison is a trip in the fast lane.

    • May 31, 2016 at 10:47 am

      Very unimpressed by this weak statement
      ‘At present we believe that birds of prey are under-represented on the NT HP estate. The NT is clear that bird of prey persecution is illegal and completely unacceptable. On NT land we’ll be working with tenants and their employees who share this view and are working with us to ensure that birds of prey are successful. ‘

      But this is positive even though it comes after a statement about necessary predator control#.
      ‘We would be prepared to accept local reductions in overall numbers of particular species or a change in their distribution if favourable condition of the habitat leads to this, provided the species
      remains viable.’

      [# I can’t help thinking that if gamekeepers practised ‘predator control’ over the whole country there would be a major extinction event. That seems like a revealing thought experiment. How can a practice, that if universal would lead to extinctions and is therefore unsustainable be supported by conservation bodies.]

  3. 5 John McAree
    May 30, 2016 at 6:50 pm

    the current zeitgeist is to back away from confrontation- the new RSPCA chief’s omnishambles of a statement, for example. The NT has never struck me as a bunch of radicals, anyway, so I expect they’re hoping the issue will quietly disappear.

    • 6 against feudalism
      May 30, 2016 at 8:19 pm

      Well, they are right. Once the estates have killed ALL the ‘vermin’, then there is no longer a problem ? After all, they have driven several species to extinction before, so they obviously know what is best.

      It is a pity that non of the organisations that could stop these crimes dead, have any backbone.

  4. 7 Tony Warburton MBE
    June 1, 2016 at 9:19 am

    As a start, I suggest any NT members who follow this site, cancel their membership and inform Jon Stewart and Rhodri Thomas why. Rest assured that this would be noted as both the NT and NT for Scotland are finding it hard to make ends meet at the moment -they have a lot of properties to maintain! For the rest of us, let us email the two gentlemen and pool our replies on RPUK. Might also be a good idea to ask Rhodri Thomas to list the BOP Initiative achievements to date. Shouldn’t take him long!

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