Earlier this year, Natural England, the so-called statutory regulator for conservation, and BASC, the British Association for Shooting (& Conservation) were boasting about a £75k donation made by BASC to Natural England to help finance ongoing hen harrier work.
I was interested in this arrangement, given that BASC is an organisation at the forefront of the game-shooting industry; an industry that has been responsible for the systematic persecution of the hen harrier for many, many years.
So I submitted an FoI to Natural England find out more.
Remember, last year BASC gave Natural England a £10k bung for hen harriers, on condition that Natural England didn’t say anything bad about BASC (see here).
[Photo by David Cole]
Well, it seems this cosy arrangement is continuing, only this time with a bigger bung and the same condition that requires Natural England to refrain from saying anything bad about BASC:
You can read the full Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) here, as released to me via my FoI request:
It’s apparent from this document that the latest MOA was eventually signed in January 2022. However, other material released in response to my FoI request reveals that Natural England and BASC were discussing this MOA as far back as 27th May 2021 – just a few weeks after the disappearance of hen harrier Asta from a grouse moor in County Durham, whose wings had been ‘removed’ so that her satellite tag could be affixed to a carrion crow in an attempt to deceive Natural England that the tag was still functioning and thus hen harrier Asta was alive and well (see here).
Who, in their right mind, would sign up to a ‘partnership’ with a game-shooting organisation knowing what unspeakable atrocity had just been inflicted on hen harrier Asta? The latest in a long, long line of atrocities inflicted on our beleaguered hen harriers by members of this industry.
My view is that the £75k bung goes some way to explain Natural England’s reluctance to publicise this latest crime.
[Cartoon by Gill Lewis]