Earlier this week we blogged about how the Moorland Assocation had blocked the publication of an official press statement on the failed Peak District Bird of Prey Initiative (here) and then shortly afterwards how the RSPB had terminated its involvement with this project (here).
We said at the time that it wasn’t just the Moorland Association that was disrupting this ‘partnership’, but that the local gamekeepers had also played their part. Here’s the evidence, sourced via an FoI to the Peak District National Park Authority:
On 8th November 2017, Rhodri Thomas (Peak District National Park Authority) sent around a copy of the draft Bird of Prey Initiative (BoPI) Report 2016-2017 to all members of the BoPI, asking for comments before the report was published. Here is that draft report: Draft BoPI 2016 2017 report
On 10th November 2017, Amanda Anderson (Director, Moorland Association) had a telephone conversation with Rhodri Thomas about the draft report. We don’t know the full details of that conversation but judging from Rhodri’s email to Amanda shortly afterwards, it’s clear that Amanda was questioning the accuracy of the report:
On 25th November 2017, Amanda wrote to Rhodri and sent him a copy of the draft BoPI report with comments from the local gamekeepers, compiled by ‘Richard’ (a gamekeeper). The main thrust is that the gamekeepers don’t accept the report as accurate, apparently do not understand the BoPI’s terms of reference six years on, and don’t want the 2016/2017 report to be published. Here is a copy of those comments:
And here is Amanda’s email to Rhodri, basically supporting the gamekeepers’ comments:
On 26 November, Rhodri emailed Amanda with his intitial thoughts on the gamekeepers’ comments:
On 27 November 2017, Rhodri wrote a more detailed reponse to Amanda about the gamekeepers’ comments:
Rhodri also sent Amanda his annotated comments to the gamekeepers’ complaints, rejecting the vast majority as being either irrelevant or inaccurate. Here it is (and it’s worth a read): Rhodri response to gamekeeper comments on draft 2016 2017 BoPI report
On 29 November, Rhodri sent the final version of the 2016/2017 BoPI report to the whole group, but before he did, he also sent this explanatory email to Amanda and Robert Benson (Chair, Moorland Assoc) to clarify why he had rejected the majority of the gamekeepers’ comments:
Later the same day, the Moorland Association refused to sign the joint press statement announcing how the BoPI had once again failed to meet any of its targets, and so the 2016/2017 report was quietly posted on the Peak District National Park Authority website without any formal announcement. We blogged about that decision here.
The emails and documents we’ve posted here provide just a flavour of the efforts Rhodri and his team have made to keep the partnership on track and to maintain the focus on tackling rampant illegal raptor persecution within the Dark Peak. In our view the Moorland Association and the gamekeepers have been working to an entirely different agenda (and the BoPI results support this view) whilst enjoying the PR gains of being seen as partners working towards improved raptor protection in the National Park.
The Peak District Bird of Prey Initiative is the epitome of a sham partnership and we applaud the RSPB for calling it out, and getting out.