Continuing on from recent blogs (here, here) about a series of updates on the proposed ‘reintroduction’ of hen harriers to southern England, here’s some more news gleaned from the latest FoI response from Natural England.
The estimated cost of a ‘reintroduction’ of hen harriers to southern England has previously been estimated at £515k (see DEFRA’s Hen Harrier InAction Plan).
Since DEFRA’s Inaction Plan was published in January 2016, we haven’t seen any other paperwork relating to these costs, or an explanation of how they were calculated. There was some comment last year from Natural England’s external funding bid, who were asked to provide advice to the Southern Reintroduction Project Team about a potential funding application to the Heritage Lottery Fund, that the final cost was more likely to be in excess of £2 million (see here).
However, in Natural England’s most recent FoI response, the details of a 2013 cost estimate (at the lower end of the scale) has now been released: HH southern reintro estimated project costs 2013
This estimate was described by the author (Ian Carter, who has since left NE) as “back of the proverbial fag packet stuff“. That’s fair enough. With so many project unknowns, it would have been difficult to provide anything more robust at that stage.
Fast forward four years and Natural England is now working to a revised cost estimate. It appears to have jumped from half a million quid to 1.15 million quid, and the only rationale, that we can see, is that this is how much the South Scotland Golden Eagle Project has just secured from the Heritage Lottery Fund: