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STOBOROUGH HYDE HEATH obliteration

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vicar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jun 2009 at 10:44pm
Originally posted by GemmaJF GemmaJF wrote:

He'll be a consultant then before you know it Steve


Heh, I hope he does, he'll at least have had expert training , and I'm confident that he has the animals' interests at heart. What's wrong with consultants anyhow?

I can't speak for all site trashings, but when they happen in my patch I do try to determine who was responsible and identify the causes.

The usual cause is that the contractors on site do not know about the animals presence, many in Surrey are ex-council contractors with little ecological expertise. Poor communications and mis-management are the prime causes. That's no excuse, but on my patch I do not believe it's as cynical a situation as people deliberately trashing reptile sites for economic gain. ignorance of herp issues is rife.

I like the Baba Dioum quote: "For in the end, we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught."

Education HAS to be a part of the solution. I believe that we are making progress and that the situation is improving in Surrey. As you know, my herp involvement is purely amateur, and all done in my own time...I have plenty of other interests to occupy myself if I think I'm flogging a dead horse.

I'm totally in favour of naming and shaming on this forum.

I'm also in favour of hearing both sides of every story.

I'm most in favour of trying to do something about it in a pro-active and constructive manner that doesn't entrench both 'sides' into immovable positions (as has happened in many cases).
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vicar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jun 2009 at 10:48pm
Originally posted by Alan Hyde Alan Hyde wrote:

Even if it was working it may be too late for many populations to recolonise.


I agree Al, so what do we do about it? and what does work ?

My goal is to minimise 'repeat offences'.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote administrator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jun 2009 at 11:12pm

Steve, I think Al has said it all.

Do you know that I'm effectively banned from surveying Essex Wildlife Trust sites? I must not leave designated paths or use ACO.

Why? Because I gave my time voluntarily to survey a site. The site has the four widespread species, not bad for Essex and GCN. I wrote a report, that was my mistake. They trashed it any way. The local Police Liason Officer did not act because Natural England said it was OK for them to do so because they 'trusted them'. They did the work because 'Natural England' said it was OK. Yet nobody other than me and the local warden was actually visiting the site to see the habitat or the aftermath it appears.

I didn't start the war here. They were offered the services of an ecological consultant for free - I did this after hearing the excuse that they couldn't afford to carryout site surveys and didn't have the expertise. You can ask anyone who knows my work that I will be onsite from morning to night for days on end until I know exactly what I'm dealing with.

Overall we have already lost most of the heathland to development. It is not at all cynical to now view the situation as a case of what little is left is being over-managed by over eager 'conservation organisations' driven not by sense but by funding. That really is how I see it and in 50 years when the biodiversity is lost people will say 'why didn't anyone stop them?'

Al really has the main point here, what is needed is a prosecution of a 'Conservation Organisation' or contractor. That way those involved will be a litte more likely to think before sending in a bulldozer to a sensitive and often irreplaceable piece of habitat and at least properly consider asking for help from those who have some clue what they are actually doing.

It doesn't wash with me they are just ignorant. They have obligations under the WCA. I would like to see ignorance used as a defence if a developer trashed as site in this way. As it is you can't so much as get a bore rig onsite under watching brief. Natural England wouldn't allow it without full mitigation. Double standards. Ignorance??? Lets see how ignorant they are when they get the plant machinery impounded and the worker sent down for six months......



Edited by GemmaJF
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vicar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jun 2009 at 11:40pm
I agree with you Gemma!

But, how likely is a prosecution against a contractor working under direction of a WT, having received NE permission when CPS and Police WLO are not interested? - not very likely in my book, but it would definitely influence behaviours. It also burns bridges, so for my strategy is a last resort (as I'm sure it was for you).

I know we're in a better position in Surrey that Essex or Kent when it come to advising the WT. This won't prevent site trashings, but I hope it means that mistakes are repeated less frequently.

Since we've started pro-active engagement with the all the land managers, we've not had any 'repeat offences'. This can't go on forever...but it's certainly not evidence that the education approach is failing. It's just one piece in the jigsaw, and I'm not sure what the other pieces look like! I think RAUK is one of the other pieces.

I also sympathise with Al's position of being a competent herpetologist, yet the 'system' doesn't recognise him as an authority.

ARGs do have a role to play here (IMO) as records from individuals can be validated and a recognised (assuming the WT will talk to you ) organisation will always carry more weight concerning 'material considerations for biodiversity'  than any individual.

If your local ARG is useless...join it and change it from within .



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote administrator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Jun 2009 at 12:16am

There are organisations that may fund a private prosecution Steve....

I always liked the term 'burning bridges' unfortunately most were already burning from the other side in Essex before I ever got to cross them...

Don't get me started on ARGs

I actually think Steve and it might come as a surprise to you, you do have the right approach. I just hope you don't get disheartened as many of us have and you don't see 'dirty tricks' such as sites getting trashed before you can survey them. Really if my moaning all the time on here shows others a different way that is fine by me.

Many of us though have lost a lot. I use to like nothing better than a day in the field just finding animals. I was so pleased when I got a reasonable camera to record my sightings.. now I don't visit sites because I'm afraid of what I'm going to see. Perhaps it is all already lost for me. It seems quite ridiculous to me that I can run a 150,000 contract for a developer without a hicup and yet be treated like a troublesome schoolgirl by EWT. (perhaps now Wellies knows why we sometimes call them w**kers). Ooops I should moderate myself, or perhaps just forget it all and go burn some Avgas...

PS Wellies, the reason I didn't moderate Keith's post is I can't actually type w**kers on here, you see it has a naughty word filter. Chris can take them out completely if he reconfigures it.



Edited by GemmaJF
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vicar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Jun 2009 at 1:09am
Right...all that talk of jigsaw pieces got me thinking.

Here's a stab at an influence diagram. Gold boxes are where I think ARGs could be of use. What have I left out?


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Iowarth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Jun 2009 at 8:25am
Steve
Thanks for your input - arguably in this case a "moderating" one! My only negative comment about your Land Management Influence Diagram relates to your preceding sentence - not "where ARGs could be of use", but "where ARGs should be of use"!

Incidentally I believe you are also quite correct in pointing out that dissatisfaction with an ARG or similar organisation is best treated by joining it and directly influencing it.

As a general comment we should all remember that whether we are talking about HCT, RSPB, WTs, ARGs etc etc they all, irrespective of cock-ups, do have at the heart of their concerns the well being of our wildlife and its habitat. Cock-ups or not, it would all be far worse off without them.

But, yes, irrespective of who actually causes such wanton damage and inevitable death of animals they are clearly in breach of the law and should be prosecuted (even Natural England!). Years ago, when I could still walk a decent distance, during the course of a site clearance/mitigation I hand caught a juvenile Zv and injured it to the extent that I had to kill it. I was nearly in tears even though, conversely I had saved nearly 500 of them. To some, that may seem excessive - yet perhaps that is the depth of feeling which is needed in those who manage habitat for our wildlife. I know that many do share this - so it is hardly surprising that wanton destruction leads to strong words.

I watched this discussion developing, and while it showed signs that it might need moderating in due course, nevertheless, part of the purpose of this forum is to allow these views to be expressed, brought into the open and discussed. So - I left well alone!

As part of this I would absolutely love it, if those responsible for ill-conceived and mismanaged management posted on here to respond to the criticism. In fact, I invite them to do so.

Last, but not least, re Gemma's PS, subjects about which people feel strongly emotional will sometimes lead to equally emotive language. The current naughty word filter allows them to make that clear, but hopefully the filter at least makes the terms acceptable to those of us who do not approve of them.

Chris


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote administrator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Jun 2009 at 9:48am

Certainly Steve one of the key factors is there, and that is willingness.

Really what I have come up against again and again is the sort of entrenched, 'well that is how we do things' attitude and "who are you to tell us differently".

Education only works if people are willing to listen and learn. Far too much goes on behind closed doors, far too many decisions are made ignoring key factors rather than based on the key factors.

The real issue here is that there is an obligation for these organisations to get their house in order and that is the WCA. However often they are 'protected' by a system which largely keeps these actions out of the public eye and allows a lot of 'buck passing'. Try to get key people together onsite to show them what is happening is practically impossible. Then when the disaster happens, 'oh it's a bit of mess we didn't know they were going to do that'. Sorry if you tell someone who drives a digger to clear a site of vegetation and scrape the site back to bare earth, then that is exactly what they are going to do.

I've seen signs go up for the public next to what looks more like a development site than a wildlife site stating the work will benefit adders. Well actually they were doing pretty well there until plant machinery was used to scrape the entire site flat to the bare earth!

The point is a single prosecution will do more for the animals than any amount of local education. I usually found that people quickly moved on in 'conservation organisations' so those educated are quickly lost and it is not a long-term solution, more a mitigation.

The situation should not be one of 'we have been educated' it should be one of 'we are obliged to seek expert advice'. Really that is the only education needed and the best way to do that is simply to prosecute under the WCA.

Lets face it, it is only that approach which makes developers employ ecological consultants, yes at times it is a will 'to do the right thing', often it is simply they can live without the bad publicity.

The notion that for some reason conservation organisations are a 'softer target' and should be treated with kid gloves is I think rather mute. After all, they are the ones who really should know better.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vicar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Jun 2009 at 2:10pm
here's an interesting link:
http://www.defra.gov.uk/paw/news/pdf/NE-MoU-2008.pdf

Of course any alleged crime would only be brought to trial if it is deemed to be in the public interest. I would imagine that this is the clause which would be cited should a wildlife organisation be under investigation.

In my business, we have an independent scrutiny body who advises, and if this advice is ignored or not sought, has powers to step in and take action. Presumably this is the role of the countryside agencies (NE etc).

I agree with what you say Gemma, but I feel that any prosecution of a conservation organisation is unlikely (unless they have been unbelievably stupid and severely breached licence conditions or work was clearly in contravention of SSSI restrictions and NCA advice).

Any action brought against a national countryside agency is certainly doomed to failure (IMO).

Prosecution is not an avenue which should be ignored (It's on the influence diagram!). However, in the majority of cases, the meagre resources (time and money) of ARGs is probably better spent elsewhere. I can't see a civil action working, as it would be next to impossible to establish personal damages - but I'm no lawyer.

Maybe there's a role here for HCT/ARC or ARG-UK?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote administrator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Jun 2009 at 5:12pm

I certainly think it is in the public interest to stop the slaughter of protected species Steve. Perhaps if we were more interested in fluffy animals it wouldn't be such a problem.

I do not think for one moment that these organisations are beyond the law or the threat of prosecution as much as they may think they are. The WCA is after all the UK interpretation of European Law.

If we were to hear of a 'conservation organisation' member steeling and selling animals for profit I'm sure everyone would be very eager to see that person prosecuted. Strange then that killing seems to be seen as something less.



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