Before David Cameron was elected he was keen to push his green credentials with his infamous hug a husky photo op and declaring he would lead the “greenest government ever.” So how have this government fared? Well they have:
- Slashed Natural England’s (the government’s wildlife and conservation body) budget by 30%, straight after they came to power, more than the 19% average across government departments and then tried to get rid of the department by merging with DEFRA, a body that seems to have an agenda at odds with conserving wildlife (see below).
- Appointed Owen Paterson Environment Secretary , a global warming denier with an axe to grind with conservation bodies and anyone who dared question the old ways and only cared about giving the NFU, big businesses in the GM and pesticide industry and his hunting buddies more money and whatever else they wanted. When, after making an absolute mess of the flooding and the badger cull he eventually goes, he blames a conspiracy from the ‘green blob’ who he says are too powerful. Something not back up by the last 5 years of government policy!
- Proposing introducing buzzard control methods to protect pheasants, before a public uproar lead them to back track and then start a study on the impact of buzzards which found they only took a tiny percentage of young pheasants and that this number could be greatly reduced by putting a roof over their rearing pen. Then a few weeks later it was revealed natural England had granted a license to destroy a buzzard nest anyway, a fact that was kept quiet and only revealed due a FOI request.
- Failed to properly implement MCZs. The last government proposed marine conservation zones, with 127 recommended. After lots of delays and wrangling a pathetic 27 were declared, which didn’t include the seahorse hotspot Studland Bay, which just happens to be where the rich and famous moor their yachts, the anchors of which ware destroying the sea horses sea grass habitat. Sadly this now means they will probably be extinct in the area by next year.
- Seemed unconcerned by neonicotinoid pesticides. As more and more evidence was found showing neonicotinoid pesticides causing great damage to insects species like bees the EU moved to ban them. Owen Paterson, our ‘environment minister’ lead the charge to stop the ban and was openly critical of the decision to ban then for 2 years while more research was done.
- Pushed fracking. Companies can now drill under your house without your permission using this highly controversial technique which has caused earthquakes and pollution, thanks to this governments tireless effort, which by coincidence will allow George Osbourne’s father in law to make a lot of money on his fracking industry investments. It has been shown in America to contaminate drinking water and yet while pushing the legislation to allow fracking the UK, they didn’t bother to put anything in it to stop drilling that may contaminate drinking water.
- The badger cull. Independent scientific advice from badger experts and even bTB in badger experts who carried out a 10year study that involved culling, evidence from Ireland that it was costly and didn’t work, a petition of over 100,000 people and the government decided to give what it promised the NFU (and they moan about unions controlling other parties!) if they got their members to vote Conservative: a badger cull. Of course it has been a complete farce with target numbers not reached with free shooting, which lead to them resorting to cage trapping, something which was originally deemed too costly and the reason why vaccination was not a viable alternative. The team that monitored the shooting deemed it inhumane in the first year so the next year to solve the problem they just got rid of the monitoring! They tried to solve the problem of not reaching the required numbers by lowering the target number, but in both years still failed to reach them. Despite this, they have also vowed to extend the cull to other areas.
- The great forest sell off: Most people seem to have forgotten, but the government tried to sell off most of our woodland and only relented after a massive campaign and public condemnation.
- “Cut the green crap” In 2013 the Prime minister himself is reported to say just this.
- Increasing grouse moor subsides. In a time of big cuts across the board, this government still found the money to DOUBLE the amount paid in subsides to grouse moors, the same grouse moors producing masses of CO2 through destructive burning, slaughter 1000s of threatened mountain hares and that during this governments term managed to reduce the hen harrier breeding in England to 0, when studies show there should be habitat for 300 of pairs, all thanks to illegal persecution, about which nothing has been done.
- Not acting on soil erosion. In the bad flooding in recent years, the lack of money for dredging was blamed, but some have pointed out that the reason dredging was needed was due to soil washing into the river. Sadly all farmers have to do to prove they are trying to stop this is fill in a self assessment form to show they are not letting this happen, and the odds of them being checked work out at less than once every 100 years. Not exactly something they will worry about. In fact many predict in a decade or two some farmland will be so eroded it will be basically useless.
- Trying to remove wildlife protection for developers. George Osbourne announced he wanted to cut the red tape around building regulations to enable growth and development, which included that which protected wildlife, despite the fact it was no evidence that getting rid of wildlife protection would help with this.
There is more of course, including the cuts to green energy investment and policies on private homes producing energy, some of which have favoured big energy companies and the expense of those developed by communities, but I’d think this post would end up being a bit long it think its fair to say they:
In fact its possible they are one of the least green!
So in my opinion at least that rules them out if you put wildlife and the environment near the top of your priorities like me, but then I would, I quite like having minor things like food and clean water and air to breathe.
So if you care about the environment, who do you vote for? Well BBC wildlife magazine asked representatives from the major parties what they would do on various environmental and wildlife issues and you read them here. Basically UKIP make the current government look like treehuggers and are genuinely scary in there ignorance. For example they think a good reason to not introduce lynx is “unwary humans would be easy prey”! Sadly for various reasons there properly isn’t much hope with the other parties either – and I still haven’t decided which way to vote……