Update on claim that grouse moor owners want licences to kill Marsh harriers

In late November 2017, we blogged about a series of reports we’d received about how grouse moor owners wanted licences from Natural England to kill Marsh harriers. It had been claimed that Amanda Anderson (Director, Moorland Association) had raised the issue at a meeting of the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG) meeting on 9 November 2017 (see here and here).

This claim was dismissed by Amanda Anderson as being “complete nonsense” but she refused to elaborate further.

Then came some astonishing claims and counterclaims from Philip Merricks (Hawk & Owl Trust), Martin Simms (National Wildlife Crime Unit) and Bob Elliot (RSPB Investigations) which can be read in the comments section of our blog (here).

Marsh harrier photo by Markus Varesuvo

It was clear we weren’t going to get any further without seeing the minutes of that RPPDG meeting. We’d already submitted an FoI to DEFRA in mid-November asking to see the minutes of all RPPDG meetings that had been held during 2017 (30 March, 25 July and 9 November).

Two months on, we’ve finally had a response from DEFRA (but only after we threatened to report them to the Information Commissioner for repeatedly failing to comply with the FoI regulations).

DEFRA has now released the minutes of the RPPDG meetings in March and July 2017, but is withholding the minutes from the 9 November 2017 meeting as they have not yet been approved by the RPPDG. We kind of expected that, because in the minutes of all the other RPPDG meetings, the first item on the agenda has been to approve the minutes from the previous meetings. That’s pretty standard so we have no concerns there – we’d just thought that given the controversy about the discussion at the November meeting, the RPPDG might have wanted to speed things up to clarify the situation sooner rather than later. But apparently not. Can’t think why.

Not to worry. We understand the next RPPDG meeting is due to be held in March 2018 so we’ll just sit and wait.

Tick tock.

UPDATE 12 November 2018: Licences to kill Marsh harriers on grouse moors – an update (here)

12 thoughts on “Update on claim that grouse moor owners want licences to kill Marsh harriers”

  1. Another great post, up there with the best of LACS. Does RPUK have an email address that I can forward information to?

    [Ed: Hi Steve, our email address: raptorpersecutionscotland[AT]hotmail.com ]

  2. Brilliant once again RPUK, keep the pressure on the ba—-rds , we all know they are economical with the truth but it would be wonderful if you could catch them red handed blatantly lying can’t wait for the next instalment. Wonder however if they are going to find a way of doctoring the minutes or squirming out of this in some way remember they are professional at twisting logic and have power and money behind them.

  3. These grouse bothers won’t stop till they drag the country back to the Victorian butchery of our raptor species

  4. If they haven’t signed off the minutes of the specific meeting in question, won’t MA just deny having said that in the meeting, therefore a FOI of those minutes will reveal nothing?

    1. The MA can deny it all they like. The problem for them is that there were other people in that room, and not all of them on the same side as the MA. The minutes, when they are released, will be fascinating.

    2. Or, as was claimed previously, the discussion took place after the meeting had formally ended.

      [Ed: It’s our understanding the conversation took place during AOB, so it should be recorded in the official minutes]

      1. I hope that is the case, and if it is, it will be fascinating to see whether the minutes come clean, or if they somehow try to wriggle out of it. The latter seems unlikely, as some of the attendees would not be happy with any underhand tactics. Could it even lead to further resignations from the partnership, following the earlier decision to do so by the RSPB? I’ll be watching this space. If the allegation turns out to be true, the Moorland Association may have truly shot itself in the foot.

        [Ed: for clarification, the RSPB has not resigned from the RPPDG]

  5. Would I be correct in thinking that if the minutes ultimately show that she was lying & that she did in fact ask the question, then her position as Director will be completely untenable & she will surely be left with no choice but to resign, as no one will be able to trust a word she says!

    1. As that is currently the case (does anybody believe anything any of these people say) it will be status quo.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s