Archive for April, 2011

COALITION GOVERNMENT DOES U-TURN ON THE U-TURN

April 20, 2011

Defra recently announced that the plan to sell off 15% of England’s public forest – started under the last government, and which was never subject to consultation but merely postponed – is to go ahead within the span of the spending review. This means that 40,000 hectares will be sold within the next four years, with no genuine guarantee on the future of England’s remaining 218,000 hectares.

The coalition’s apparent u-turn on the forestry sale was heralded as a victory of people power, with Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman apologising in the House of Commons, saying “I am sorry, we got this one wrong – but we have listened to people’s concerns”.  While campaigners were rightly proud that the government seemed to have listened to them, the fight is far from over.

This recent announcement, quietly slipped out, unmasks the ‘u-turn’ as a mere stunt. The future of our forest is far from secure. People value and enjoy English woodland, which is an important part of our heritage. They want forests to be sustainably managed in the interests of biodiversity and climate protection, and they do not want their right of access to be removed or obstructed.

Penny Kemp, Green Party Environment spokesperson said, “Yet again, we see the true colours of this Coalition Government. They seem incapable of being truthful with the public. This latest u-turn on a u-turn is being done by stealth. Far from listening to the concerns of the public, they are treating them with contempt. The public made it quite clear that they considered a 30p investment by all to keep Britains forests in public ownership is tremendous value for money.”

The Green Party believes that our forests should remain in public ownership. We want to work with the Forestry Commission to improve environmental stewardship of natural spaces, striking the right balance between public education, enjoyment, and preserving forests as a haven for wildlife.

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Legalised Free-for-all Shooting of Badgers

April 14, 2011

As a long time campaigner on animal protection issues, I was horrified to read of ministers’ plans for a legalised free-for-all shooting of badgers in our countryside (‘Shooting badgers to be legal under plans for big society cull’, 14 April). The idea that ‘groups of volunteers’ would be given permission to organise their own ‘shooting expeditions’ in a manner akin to bloodsports is obscene and unworkable. Given that the Government has so far failed to respond publicly to the Defra consultation on a badger cull, this proposal also smacks of cowardice and looks suspiciously like policy on the hoof.

Even aside from the free shooting proposal, the determination of this Government to introduce culling as a solution to bovine TB is highly misguided. The Independent Scientific Group on Badger TB conducted a randomised cull trial over a 9 year period, at a cost to the taxpayer of £50 million, which destroyed 10,000 badgers. In its final report, the ISG concluded that “badger culling can make no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control in Britain. Indeed, some policies under consideration are likely to make matters worse rather than better”.

Eighty percent of bovine TB transmission is thought to be caused by cattle-to-cattle infection. Given that it is a respiratory disease, this high rate can be attributed to the trend towards intensive dairy farming, in which cattle are kept in crowded conditions. Rather than cruel and ineffective mass culling, restrictions on cattle movement and contact between badgers and cattle should be given high priority, in addition to research into vaccination as an effective alternative.

With this in mind, ministers should urgently take heed of the concerns raised by the National Wildlife Crime Unit and animal protection organisations about the practical and ethical implications of a free shooting policy – and drop its blind commitment to the cruel and unnecessary culling of a legally protected species.

Caroline Lucas MP

Northampton Says YES! Day of Action

April 14, 2011

Come and join our Northampton Says YES! day of action on Friday 22nd April.

On Friday 22nd April our YES! Mega Banner tour of the East Midlands will come to Northampton town centre.

With only three weeks left until May 5th we need your help to show that Northampton is ready to say YES to a fairer politics.

Please volunteer your morning and sign-up for Northampton’s unveiling of one of the UK’s biggest political banners.

Join our Mega Banner unveil in Northampton

As May 5th approaches, we need your help to secure support from millions of people across the UK.

So please come and join our Northampton YES! day of action

This is a fun way of campaigning for a Yes vote and getting to know other people who support the Yes to Fairer Votes campaign.

Help us deliver a fairer politics on 5th May by joining us on the Northampton Says YES! day of action.

Join our Mega Banner unveil in Northampton

Michael Payne

Regional Organiser, East Midlands
Yes to Fairer Votes
Room 6.16, 6th Floor
City Gate East
Tollhouse Hill
Nottingham
NG1 5FS

07866978580