Posts Tagged ‘uk

05
Oct
22

The Eroding of Wildlife Protection within the UK

Like many others I was appalled at some of the press articles last week outlining changes the government were proposing. I was prompted to write the following letter to my MP Duncan Baker. Duncan has helped Tania and I out on a couple of occasions previously and has forced through decisions and prompted action which have helped us personally. His reply is also published below which makes for an interesting read.

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Dear Mr Baker,

You have helped me in the past and I am once again looking to you to help me again.

I am a Wildlife Tour operator based in your constituency in Norfolk. I am writing to express my concerns over recent government announcements that I believe, as do many environmental organisations, will significantly reverse the UK’s ambitions for nature recovery over the coming decade.

Our wild flora and fauna are in a perilous state, as a result of decades of agricultural intensification, increased development (houses, roads, railways, extractive industries) and more insidious threats such as air and water pollution, unsustainable land use practices in the uplands (over-grazing, burning, plantation forestry), the spread of invasive non-native species and, in recent decades, climate change.

The government’s plans to revoke hundreds of laws that protect wild places and standards for water quality, pollution and the use of pesticides will make matters worse, as will the implementation of new planning infrastructure which threatens to weaken vital protections for habitats and wildlife. I am also concerned that the proposed review of the long-awaited Environmental Land Management schemes – which would reward farmers for restoring nature, preventing pollution and climate-proofing their business – will lead to reduced ambition and consequently financial support for activities that help combat both the nature and climate crises.

As well as meeting hundreds of like minded people during my employment I also work for and am active as a trustee within several charities; most notably the Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists’ Society.  Through scientific surveys the Society is able to provide decision-makers (conservationists, land managers, policy-makers) and academics with the evidence they need to make sensible decisions about our county’s wildlife – without a healthy wild flora many species dependent on wild plants will suffer. The current trends for much of our flora and fauna amounts to nothing less than a doomsday prediction.

If we are to reverse these declines then we will need a government that is committed to protecting and enhancing our nation’s wildlife, not one that is prepared to relax laws that protect wildlife and remove funding of schemes that will help restore and recover what we have lost. I strongly recommend that the government sticks to its original commitments to reverse biodiversity loss and recover nature for future generations to enjoy.

You must recognise Duncan that the restoration of a thriving wildlife infrastructure within our county and country is paramount to the continuance of life as we know it for us all.

Please be a voice to act against the proposed changes.

Best regards

Carl Chapman

Wildlife Tours and Education

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Dear Carl, 

Thank you for taking the time to contact me about protecting the environment. I’m so sorry this is not a fully bespoke response. I have been so busy last week with final preparations for the London Marathon which I completed on Sunday, that I am just getting round to read all the emails I’ve received and provide a response.

It has been a real privilege to again raise well over £30,000 for 26 local charities and nearly £75,000 over two years for 40 different local charities from what all started as a hobby in lockdown. Once more I’ve been able to donate £1000 for each mile I completed and £5000 on mile 26 to help refugees in Norfolk still unable to return home. Indeed, today is the 6 month anniversary of the Ukrainian family arriving, Anna and Sviatik who are still happily living with my family.

As you likely know, protecting the environment, especially our wonderful wildlife and beautiful countryside here in North Norfolk, is incredibly important to me.

I want to entirely reassure your concerns. Claims that this government is rowing back on our commitments to farming reform or nature are wholly untrue. As you may be aware, I am a huge advocate for the environment. I currently sit on the Environmental Audit Select Committee and as such always champion the environment, as this is a matter that I feel incredibly strongly about.

The statement from DEFRA making this very clear is here:

https://deframedia.blog.gov.uk/2022/09/26/government-reiterates-commitment-to-environmental-protections/

I have brought forward many inquiries into embodied carbon for buildings, plastic pollution and the upkeep of biodiversity through my select committee work. In addition, no one in Parliament has done more to stop the trenching through our countryside from the cable corridors from the wind turbines. All in order to protect nature.
I have also discussed throughout the Environment Bill in 2021 the importance of putting the environment at the heart of the government’s decision making, with legally binding targets on biodiversity, air quality and waste efficiency.

It’s clear to me you also care deeply about the environment, and I note you raise several important topics in your email. I will happily discuss them with you and cover the questions you ask.

Firstly, to be absolutely clear, I do not want to see any backtracking on key environmental protections. We have made great progress over the past few years, as well as delivered ambitious commitments and targets. Rest assured I am determined we continue this trajectory and have seen nothing to date that makes me think we won’t.

I appreciate that you have concerns over the possible impact investment zones will have on the environment. However, I have to say, I see no immediate cause for unease. Investment zones will promote growth and unlock housing by lowering taxes and liberalising our planning frameworks to foster rapid development and investment across the UK. It is not an either/or in my mind – we can achieve growth without harming the environment – we will work towards both.

Secondly, regarding the Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS), I understand and appreciate your concern here. I also appreciate the Government is having to find a balance between some very big and complex issues – namely, boosting the environment, supporting farmers, and furthering domestic food security. As a result, I have heard the Government is reviewing our farming regulations and will comment on this in due course. We of course need food security whilst enabling our farmers continue to be custodians for our countryside. This is all the review appears to be.

Naturally, like you, I will be playing close attention, and will voice my views when appropriate. In the meantime, I will certainly endeavour to convey your strength of feeling and resolute support for ELMS to ministerial colleagues at DEFRA. I hope this can reassure you somewhat.

Thirdly, I certainly will do everything I can to protect and enhance nature at home. I hope my actions and commitments I’ve made thus far can reassure you of this. From sitting on the Environmental Audit Select Committee and the Net-Zero APPG, to working on legislation to increase biodiversity, I have consistently sought to create a better greener country. It is an essential part of my being MP for North Norfolk and will not stop.

COP15 will provide a fantastic opportunity to further not just a greener country but a greener world. I am therefore pleased to see the Government has already committed to playing a leading role in developing an ambitious post-2020 global biodiversity framework to be adopted at COP15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Rest assured, the UK will continue to push for global ambitious targets.

Many thanks again for taking the time to contact me. I do hope my response is useful and adequately answers your questions. Please don’t hesitate to let me know if I can clarify anything.

Yours sincerely,

Duncan Baker MP
Member of Parliament for North Norfolk

04
Jun
18

Mammal Tour 2019

The 2019 Mammal Tour is now open for bookings – full details are available to download here

Take a look at just a few of the mammals we encountered this year … and it’s not just about mammals either … some amazing birds to be seen too.

The Scottish Badger is a smaller race than the English version.

We saw two pods of Bottlenose Dolphins on the east coast.

We saw around 150 Common Dolphin – always the most entertaining of mammals and everyone’s favourite – this was taken from the boat before the animal surfaced..

Porpoise were in good numbers around Ardnamurchan. I stopped counting when I got to more than a hundred.

One of seven Minke Whales we came accross

We watched this Osprey displaying with a fish. One of nine birds we saw during the week

The most enigmatic mammal of the Highlands this Pine Marten really entertained us

A surprise interloper at a bait ball we came across was this Pomarine Skua sporting full ‘spoons’ – always good to see.

Prolific in the Highlands we saw some good herds of Red Deer

Never as easy to find during late May as they are earlier in the year we eventually saw a few Red Squirrels

Several Storm Petrels were seen during our boat trip to the Cairnes of Col

One surprise mammal was this male Walrus. Something we REALLY didn’t expect to see.

We saw several White tailed Eagles while searching for the 22 mammals we eventually saw

23
Aug
17

Turn Turtle

The way we treat our land and the wildlife that occupies it is coming to a watershed. Some would say we have already reached a point of no return. One bird that has become very scarce in the UK is the Turtle Dove. A massive reduction in numbers has been caused by insecticides in the UK, destruction of their wintering habitat in Africa and sky pointed guns in the Mediterranean. This is a bird that’s onto a loosing streak wherever it goes.

This summer a pair have sought breeding sanctuary at Titchwell RSPB here on the north Norfolk coast and have been frequently visible in the car park. I photographed one there last week. Reading old copies of the Norfolk Bird and Mammal Report it wasn’t uncommon to see hundreds during a day on the coast. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a sizeable flock of these birds. Do I think they will be seen again in the UK in those numbers? No; but we can hope.

13
Sep
16

Wild cattle

On our mammal tour of the UK next May we call in to see the only heard of wild cattle in the country. Magnificent beasts these. Not wide cattle bred for meat or dairy they are completely free from drugs or veterinary intervention. They are lean and sinewy; very much a completely wild beast of the hills and forests; dangerous too!

2016-09-11-chillingham-wild-cattle-chillingham-park-northumberland_z5a6740

27
Jun
16

Not more bleating about the EU decision?

I used to be able to service my own car. I can’t now. It’s not just about changing the oil and spark plugs. It’s more about the electronics. A bit more complicated. More about changing computer boards than brake pads. I’ve never been able to fix computers. Ever since I was dragged kicking and screaming to a keyboard in the 1990’s I’ve been able to operate one; but I could never look under the bonnet and fix one. I get the experts in.

So which experts do you use? I was taught that firstly you do a little research around a subject and you refer for an experts opinion. You then judge that persons capability by talking to them, by asking questions and listening to the replies. Nobody can be an expert overnight. Knowledge on any subject takes years to accumulate. After assessing if an expert is a more capable ‘person’ than myself it’s easy to know if they are talking sense. This holds true regardless of what they are doing for me, be it fixing my computer, pruning my apple trees or setting up my mortgage. It’s one of the ways I make decisions. It’s how I assessed if Brexit was for me. I listened to the experts I trust. A negative plan; one that doesn’t want something rather than a plan to do something has never appealed to me. I simply cannot believe anyone really trusted Boris the buffoon or Ferage the philanderer?

It’s a democracy and we all voted on what we saw was important. For me it was, and is, the environment. After reviewing facts and listening to the people I trust who have lots of knowledge around wildlife and the environment as well as legislation, share price and industry I voted to remain in the EU.

The current problems with the environment are probably the most important things the human race have ever faced. But I guess the majority of the population just don’t ‘get it’. To me and many others it’s bloody blindingly obvious. These problems need to be tackled first and they need to be tackled now! Many don’t understand the global warming creeping up on us like a cancer will eventually kill us. They don’t understand that chemicals we put on the land in the name of greater production are decimating insect life supporting everything in the food chain above and subsequently leaching into to the sea causing havoc. They just don’t understand … or maybe they don’t want to understand. Maybe they realise they will be on the planet for such a short time and they are going to enjoy it while they are here and bugger the consequences. If that’s true, what a selfish attitude. Selfish and inwardly looking. Even a bit bigotry. A bit like the ‘Getting our Britain back’ comments I heard last week. Getting it back from what … from foreigners? This country has always been ours. It’s problems are not because of foreigners. If you don’t like it the way it is get off your arse and make it better. Do something positive for all … not just you and yours. Get out of your tin foil time machine and stop blaming others.

Everyone that ‘gets it’ knows we have now lost a mechanism to tackle problems that don’t have borders or nationalities. No more supportive cross border legislation. We now really need to do something. We must ensure that European legislation protecting our wildlife is updated and incorporated into British Law. Even that is now more complicated; though we ignored our European cousins when they told us we are stronger together we are now using the same phrase to Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales … and expecting them to listen. I guess maybe we ought to be talking of English Law rather than British Law. What a tangled web of uncertainty we have woven. No wonder the pound has lost 9% of its value in 48 hours. That’s like taking a 9% pay cut. I hope everyone that voted to leave can afford that?

Even if some feel they are surrounded by a majority of unthinking knuckle dragging Neanderthals we live in a democracy. Anybody hanging a hat on a a re-vote or a vote of no confidence in the result needs to get real. It won’t happen.

So… enough already.  Looking forward. How do we ensure EU drivers that protected us from the rape of our seas, ensured the quality of our air and helped against poor pesticide use are put in place?

We must now rely on organisations that have a voice. The RSPB perhaps, the Wildlife Trusts maybe or even the Green Party need to mobilise and lobby … and lobby hard … for new protective home grown legislation. These organisations and others like them now need to develop what they are about and what they do; maybe even change their very ethos … and step up to the mark.

Are these the experts you trust to do that?

Fulmar

Fulmar taken on our East Coast Seabird Tour last week. Numbers of many seabirds are reducing around the UK

10
Mar
16

New Website

Well! That was a bit of a week that was. Talk about getting to grips with software and messing about on the laptop. If the next time you see me I’ve got oblong eyes and look like Brains out of Thunderbirds you know why!

I think … he said cautiously … it’s now all done and dusted. The website is live. Just needs someone to have a gander at the spelling, but yes … Elvis has left the building!

Please take a look and tell me what you think.

www.wildlifetoursandeducation.co.uk

 

23
Sep
15

Hedgerow snuffler

My father-in-law may not be able to hear well but his eyesight lacks nothing. As we were driving down a side road the other week he spotted something I missed on the road verge. After their population has decreased by a third in the last 10 years Hedgehogs are becoming rare beasts. Why wouldn’t I stop to photograph it?

Hedgehog

04
Jan
15

Expectations

So what of 2015? Well, the year has much potential.

Of all the week/weekend tours next year away from Norfolk there are only 7 places available.

A tour to the Solway in February for the Barnacle Geese, along with Grantown on Spey in April for the Scottish specialities are the first two of four tours in total to Scotland this year. The second two in May are both to Mull. All are full as is the trip to the Scillies in October … although I may be able to fit another person in if you contact me quickly.

There are still a couple of places on the East Coast Seabird Tour (photographers miss at your peril), the Wild in Wales Weekend, both in June and the Jurassic Coast Tour in July. So, if you fancy an entertaining time among a small group of people, looking at and photographing birds and other wildlife please let me know and I’ll book you a place.

Over the next few weeks I shall also be organising some speciality day tours so watch this space.

Sharon and I are off to the Azores again in July. We’re hoping to photograph Sperm Whales and maybe see something rarer like a Beaked Whale … fascinating animals rarely seen. In addition we’re also talking about going to Shetland in September. I fancy the idea of finding some rare eastern birds up there and it’s been far too long since I was last among the glorious Isles. In the meantime I shall be enjoying my Christmas present of a week in a French gite timed to coincide with the Crane migration in late February … and who knows there might be a rare woodpecker or two to find out there too!

Have you got your year organised yet?

http://youtu.be/BHWqPj85Gwg

21
Dec
14

Well are they or aren’t they?

I’ve seen them … so they must be wild … right? ;0)

Two Trumpeter Swans swanning around the Suffolk saltmarshes at the moment have one of two origins. 1) They have gone AWOL from some local bird collection … or 2) They have crossed the Atlantic together from North America and are genuine wild birds.

Given the fidelity of the species and the observed behaviour of these two I would suggest they are a pair. Reintroduction/released Trumpeters tend not to migrate although wild birds regularly migrate between Canada and Alaska south into the lower states in North America.

The thing is Trumpeter Swan has not been recorded in a totally wild state on British shores previously. But why wouldn’t they be wild. We know small passerines can make it to the UK and they can’t rest on the sea. They aren’t wearing anything such as rings that would indicate they are from a collection and they are wary. We noted how they moved to the back of the flock of 48 Mutes with which they were associating when we broke the skyline.

If enquiries of local collection reveal a ‘full attendance’ … they get my vote.

2014 12 19 Trumpeter Swan Boyton RSPB Suffolk_Z5A6178 2014 12 19 Trumpeter Swan Boyton RSPB Suffolk_Z5A6286 2014 12 19 Trumpeter Swan Boyton RSPB Suffolk_Z5A6429

Update – they are escapes. See the following site for details of how they fledged from Letheringham Lodge near Wickham Market http://www.letheringhamlodge.com/blog/?month=january-2015&view=calendar

They are apparently not a pair but siblings. I do wish they would place a ring on birds in collections it does so make monitoring genuine vagrants a nightmare! Still … nice to see and I’m pleased the owners have located and identified them as their Trumpeters.

 

20
Sep
12

I’m Badgering Nobody

One good thing about the current government is they will listen to majorities.  If 100,000 signatures are collected in response to particular subjects they do get debated in the House of Commons.

One bad thing about the current government is they do not listen to common sense. Natural England has issued the first Badger Cull licence this week. What an ill conceived idea based on bad science that will mean the death of hundreds if not thousands of healthy mammals with no bettering of the bovine TB situation. As I’ve said many times before I don’t coax others to the signing of petitions – I’ll leave it to individual choice. I just can’t help thinking I would be responsible for letting this cull proceed if I didn’t raise my hand in objection. There are currently half of the number of signatures required on the petition.

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/38257

I take customers on Badger Watches quite often through the summer months although I don’t advertise the fact. I find them charming creatures that fill an important niche. If you’re interested in coming along on one give me a shout … while there’s still some to watch!




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