Further to Friday’s news that the Swinton Estate is under police investigation for the alleged disturbance of breeding hen harriers through diversionary feeding without a licence (see here), there’s been a further development.
You might remember from an earlier blog (here), that one of the conditions of Natural England’s class licence (CL25) permitting the use of diversionary feeding for hen harriers is that diversionary feeding may only begin once the hen harrier’s eggs have hatched. Diversionary feeding is not permitted during the incubation period (which is when Swinton Estate is alleged to have been providing diversionary food).
Well guess what? Natural England has changed the rules and surprise, surprise, diversionary feeding is now permissible during the incubation period!
And imagine re-writing the rules at the same time as your star grouse shooting estate (apparently accompanied by a Natural England employee) is under police investigation for alleged hen harrier disturbance because hen harriers were being fed during the incubation period!
And imagine re-writing the rules and not announcing the rule change!
Imagine hoping that nobody would notice!
Sneaky, Natural England, very, very sneaky.
What the CL25 licence said about when diversionary feeding was permissible, prior to 13th May 2021:
What the CL25 licence says about when diversionary feeding is permissible, from 13th May 2021:
Gosh, it’s almost as though Natural England is making up the rules as it goes along, isn’t it? I am just marvelling at the breath-taking duplicity of this Government agency.
Having said all that, unless there’s an unseen commencement clause in the newly-written licence conditions (and nothing would surprise me because Natural England just cannot be trusted on anything Hen Harrier related), this new condition shouldn’t be applied retrospectively so the police investigation shouldn’t be derailed.
It’s also useful to note that both the previous licence and the re-written licence state that the female hen harrier shouldn’t be disturbed at the nest during this period. It would appear, looking at the footage, that the Swinton Estate employee and the Natural England employee still have some explaining to do.
I’ll be writing more on diversionary feeding activities in previous years at Swinton in a separate blog…..
UPDATE 17th June 2021: This blog article led to a follow-up article in the Ends Report here
UPDATE 17th June 2021: Natural England accidentally lets slip more alleged shenanigans with hen harriers at Swinton Estate (here)