A year ago, gamekeeper Allen Lambert was convicted of a series of wildlife crime offences on the Stody Estate in Norfolk, including the mass poisoning of birds of prey (10 buzzards and one sparrowhawk) which had been found dead on the estate in April 2013 (see here and here).
We found out that the Stody Estate had received millions of pounds worth of agricultural subsidies (i.e. money given to them from our taxes to help them farm on the condition they look after the wildlife and wildlife habitats under their management) and we wanted to find out whether the Estate would now face a financial penalty in the form of a reduction in their subsidies for what was a very serious breach of the cross-compliance regulations.
One year later and we’re still trying to find out.
In October 2014, the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) told us they “would consider action against Stody Estate“, although one of our blog readers was told, “there is no investigation ongoing” (see here).
In December 2014, one of our blog readers contacted the RPA again to ask for an update. The RPA responded in January 2015 by saying “We are unable to provide you with any meaningful response as we do not hold any information that answers your questions” (see here).
In July 2015, we again wrote to the RPA to ask whether they had imposed a penalty on Stody Estate. We were told that as the convicted gamekeeper wasn’t the actual subsidy recipient, the RPA was trying to determine whether there was “a link” between the convicted gamekeeper and the subsidy recipient (i.e. his employer) and if so, whether the recipient (Stody Estate) could be considered liable for the actions of the gamekeeper (see here). Amazing.
As the one-year anniversary of the gamekeeper’s conviction approached, in September 2015 we wrote to the RPA again to see whether they’d now worked out “a link” between the convicted employee and his employer. Last week they responded with this:
“The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has notified the Stody Estate in Norfolk that a cross compliance breach occurred, as [sic] result of the actions of their gamekeeper. This is because the estate is vicariously liable for the actions of their employees. Under European cross compliance rules, the RPA is obliged to follow-up reports of cross compliance breaches brought to its attention. The rates of applicable reductions are explained in the scheme rules“.
So, the inefficient RPA has taken a year to decide that there was a cross compliance breach, but we still don’t know whether a financial penalty has been imposed, and if it has, what its value is.
According to the RPA’s ‘scheme rules’, cross compliance breaches can be categorised as either ‘negligible’ or ‘intentional’, and the severity of the penalty is dependent on this.
For negligible non-compliance (falls below the standard of care expected of a competent claimant) subsidy payment is normally reduced by 3% but could range from 1-5% depending on the extent, severity, re-occurrence and permanence of the non-compliance.
For intentional non-compliance, payments will normally be reduced by 20%, but may be reduced to 15% or increased to 100% depending on the extent, severity, re-occurrence and permanence of the non-compliance.
What do you think? Is laying out banned poisons that kill 11 raptors a negligible or intentional non-compliance?
Given that we don’t know how the RPA will determine if the breaches were negligible or intentional, and given that we don’t know how much of our money was awarded to the Stody Estate in 2013 (the year the breaches occurred), although judging by the amounts they received between 2004-2012 it was probably a considerable sum (see here), it’s difficult for us to establish even a rough guesstimate of what the penalty might be, and that’s assuming that the RPA has decided a penalty is warranted.
So, we’ve written, again, to the RPA to ask whether a penalty has been imposed (and if not, why not) and if it has been imposed, how much is it?
8 thoughts on “Stody Estate subsidy penalties: another update”
I had a series of emails to RPA about Stody asking about penalties/payments- mostly with no reply but eventually in June 2015 the following.
“Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) – Stody Estate
Thank you for your e-mail that we received 1st May 2015. Due to data protection we cannot discuss this matter with you.
There is no further action this department can take at this time.
Talk about being fobbed off and patronised! Isn’t it tax-payers money? Words fail me.
It stinks of “looking after the wealthy”. Or too scared to say, “boo”, to them?
I have sent an email to my MP regarding this matter. I will let you know when I receive more than just an acknowledgement!
To John Pugh MP,
Please find below a copy of Raptor Persecution Scotland (England)
The RPS have sought information about the funding that the Stody Estate in Norfolk received from Rural Payments Agency and if due to their failure to comply with “cross compliance regulations”, the funds have been returned?
This shooting estate is clearly responsible for the actions of it employee but the considerable government or EU funding has not been reclaimed.
We clearly need vicarious liability to be included in our laws in order to provide incentives for these types of businesses to obey the laws of our land. Many of the shooting Estates clearly believe they are above the law and continue to persecute raptors with impunity. This must be changed. Our Hen harriers are almost extinct due to their actions and many other birds of prey killed!
I don’t understand why this isn’t big news in the media.
A politician claims might be £10 out and that is newsworthy (not saying it shouldn’t be) but millions of tax payers money going to fund rich landowners criminal vicarious liability is not worth reporting.
Thanks again RPS for being, along with Mark Avery, the only source of real wildlife crime news.
I also wish to thank you RPS for pursuing this matter. As anandprasad says, it is such a shame that the media fail to take any real interest in these sort of cases, as so much of our money is given to these estates to protect our wildlife, but then they end up killing it and still, apparently, keep our money.
Thanks for banging away at this. What wouldn’t they get away with. You continue to do the most outstanding work for wildlife and I am constantly impressed with your valiant efforts.