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8:00am Thursday 14th June 2012 in Letters
Sir – The last Labour Government commissioned the Hampton Report in 2004 and accepted all its recommendations for a new set of rules for areas of regulation and enforcement in this country.
Philip Hampton was a corporate businessman and the report Implementing Hampton (November 2006) quotes the word “business” 205 times, the word “consumer” 30 times and “putting consumers first” just once. He consulted over 300 business and governmental organisations but not a single environmental charity.
The findings became statutory law on April 6, 2008. For Natural England, the agency whose stated aim is to “defend the environment”, this now meant that “a key element of its activity will be to encourage economic progress”.
Hence we have the shameful situation whereby Natural England has recently abandoned its legal action against the Walshaw Moor grouse estate for burning blanket bog and other habitats on a Site of Special Scientific Interest in the Pennines, killing all the wildlife which cannot flee, in order to improve the grouse shooting.
Natural England has decided, instead, to collaborate in future with the destructive burning of a valuable natural habitat. This is because, under the Hampton principles, it now has to value the economic activity of shooting.
Unfortunately, we have a similar situation in Wolvercote, Oxford where Natural England changed its mind and supported the introduction of much faster trains through a narrow tunnel — underneath Woodstock Road roundabout — being used by 13 species of bats, two of which are rare nationally.
If Natural England is to consider business interests above those of wildlife (why does it not insist on the trains slowing down for this tunnel?) who is left to “defend our environment”?
Keith Dancey, Upper Wolvercote