Preach­ing by Trust re­ally raises my hack­les

Few things get his goat more than hav­ing his agenda set for him, as Bridg­wa­ter and West Som­er­set Con­ser­va­tive MP Ian Lid­dell-Grainger writes to Farm­ing Min­is­ter Ge­orge Eus­tice

Western Daily Press (Saturday) - - Countryside -

DEAR Ge­orge, D’you know, noth­ing gets up the nos­trils more ir­ri­tat­ingly than be­ing ad­vised how one should do one’s job – par­tic­u­larly when that ad­vice comes from some or­gan­i­sa­tion con­sid­er­ably less in pos­ses­sion than one­self of the rel­e­vant knowl­edge, ex­per­tise and ex­pe­ri­ence.

Which is why, as you may imag­ine, I shall be ig­nor­ing the sug­ges­tion by the Som­er­set Wildlife Trust that I should or­gan­ise, at­tend and star at some form of pub­lic meet­ing to dis­cuss the forth­com­ing En­vi­ron­ment Bill. If my con­stituents wish to put for­ward their views on the Bill then they have at their dis­posal all the usual chan­nels of com­mu­ni­ca­tion with me – chan­nels which, I might add, are fre­quently very heav­ily traf­ficked as testimony to their use­ful­ness.

I have also been in­formed that the trust’s next big cam­paign will be called ‘Wilder Fu­ture. Wilder Som­er­set’ which sounds sus­pi­ciously as though it’s based on Brother Mon­biot’s loony doc­trine which would have us re­turn farm­land to na­ture and go back to hav­ing packs of wolves and herds of au­rochs roam­ing the coun­try­side.

As far as I am con­cerned, Ge­orge – and thanks in no small part to the suc­cess of the cam­paign to halt moor­land recla­ma­tion on Ex­moor – we have enough wild bits in Som­er­set. And as to them be­ing un­der some sort of threat, as the trust sup­poses, they are in fact pro­tected by sev­eral lines of bu­reau­cratic barbed wire en­tan­gle­ments which, last time I checked, are work­ing pretty well.

What re­ally, re­ally starts the hack­les ris­ing, Ge­orge, is to be preached at (as I re­cently was) about the state of play in my con­stituency by mem­bers of the trust who don’t even live there but whose sole aim ap­peared to be to pro­tect badgers from any fur­ther and en­tirely ra­tio­nal op­er­a­tions to re­duce their num­bers and so the in­ci­dence of TB in cat­tle.

The wildlife trust needs to ac­knowl­edge that apart from one or two patches of land which it looks after the bulk of the wilder parts of the coun­try­side are man­aged very ef­fec­tively by farm­ers – the same farm­ers the en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists re­peat­edly de­monise; the same farm­ers who get all too lit­tle credit for the en­vi­ron­men­tal work (of­ten over and above what­ever they are paid for) they carry out; the same farm­ers whose cat­tle the en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists are pre­sum­ably happy to see pre­ma­turely carted off to the slaugh­ter­house be­cause they’ve been in­fected with TB by badgers.

I sup­pose if you dis­play a badger on your logo then you have to dis­play some sort of al­le­giance to the breed but the fact is that blind sup­port for an animal whose num­bers have long since passed any sus­tain­able level has ul­ti­mately cost this coun­try bil­lions of pounds.

So when I am ac­tu­ally asked to stage such a pub­lic meet­ing I shall have to de­cline on the grounds that my diary is al­ready full with more weighty is­sues. There’s that cracked pane in the green­house that I have been mean­ing to re­place for months and I know Mrs L-G wants me to go and look at a car­pet for the spare room.

Not that this ap­pears to be the only de­mand that is be­ing made of me for I read on and see the trust wants the Bill to in­clude ‘le­gal tar­gets for na­ture’s recovery that politi­cians must ul­ti­mately achieve’.

How, I won­der, is that go­ing to pan out? Am I to be held di­rectly re­spon­si­ble for en­sur­ing that farm­land bird pop­u­la­tions are re­stored, for ex­am­ple? Last time I checked, farm­ers here were do­ing what they could to be wel­com­ing to mi­grat­ing species, though the prob­lems in­many in­stances are linked to what hap­pens in the other coun­tries where some species spend their time, rang­ing from drought and other fac­tors af­fect­ing feed­ing and there­fore breed­ing rates to them be­ing shot out of the sky by gun-tot­ing Mal­tese on their way here.

Am I to be per­son­ally blamed if num­bers fail to re­cover – per­haps pa­raded through the streets of my con­stituency wear­ing sack­cloth and ashes and with the Stuffed Lap­wing of Shame hang­ing, al­ba­tross-like, around my neck? Don’t rule it out… Yours ever Ian

Ian Lid­dell-Grainger says ‘blind sup­port’ for the badger has costthe UK bil­lions of pounds

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.