I consider myself extremely lucky, indeed very privileged to have spent almost my whole working life involved with wildlife and landscape conservation: Working in spectacular surroundings; saving or re-creating precious habitats; the buzz of telling other people about the view around them; working with animals (well, most of the time!). Yes there have been the downsides – office work, getting wet and muddy, clearing up other people’s mess and livestock having other ideas about where to be! But hey, most occupations have their downsides! Reading this article has really reinforced just how lucky I was back in the 1970’s to have got into this profession and what for much of my life, has been a charmed career.
I’ve watched and listened to a number of programmes related to the partition of India into two separate states during August 1947…
The haste at which this was carried out, particularly the drawing over a few weeks of the two new borders between India demarcating the two areas which were to become Pakistan, beggars disbelief! India had been clamouring for independence for years with Britain refusing to act, then suddenly after WW2, with Britain now broke and India requiring money for re-investment and modernisation, Britain led by Churchill and aided by Mountbatten, dropped India like a hot potato. Indian politicians, in particular Jinnah, and to a degree Nehru also carry a fair amount of blame for the eventual Partition and the ensuing bloodshed.
Britain seem to just want to forget about the rising tide of religious tension, under investment and the fact that thousands of men from India had fought and died for Britain in two World Wars. The ensuing slaughter of perhaps a million civilians along religious lines in the ensuing division of land, the five million displaced people, is truly shocking.
I know it’s easy with hindsight to judge events of some 70 years ago but it again makes me recoil from being proud of some aspects of what Britain and the Union Jack have done for the World, colonialism – exploitation and meddling in other peoples affairs, (include here Iraq, Palestine, Africa).
Thursday, Aug 3. Rather un-seasonal weather during the past 24 hours with substantial rainfall through yesterday afternoon and through much of the night. That has been followed today with quite windy conditions – Force 7- Near Gale, being recorded out in the Channel and the average wave height reaching 6.5 feet, producing plenty of white-crested waves.
Sunday, Aug 13. Slow boat to Turkey – a new twist on that old saying! A dutch tug, the Fairmount Glacier, 3,239 gross tonnes, is on passage towing a large drilling rig to Aliaga in Turkey. It is shadowed by the Belgium-registered offshore support vessel, Smit Nicobar of 2,606 gross tonnes. The towering rig was a feature on the horizon for much of the day off Hastings for it is travelling only between 2 – 6 knots, walking pace! Monday morning and they were south of the Isle of Wight. ETA in Turkey is September 10th!
Friday, Aug 18. There has been much talk just recently about the amount of rain this month. One of the BBC weathermen was asked for an explanation about it. He stated that of ‘the last 13 consecutive Augusts, 9 had been wetter than the average, perhaps indicating a new trend.’
Wed, Aug 30. Quite a number of house martins hawking above the town this evening, probably because of their migration being put on hold by the wet, cloudy weather and less than perfect visibility?
Two items of current focus in Brexit news this week have been environmental standards and trade talks.
Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox, appear to have differing goals where these two suggested policies meet.
Post-Brexit, Gove is talking of a ‘gold standard’ for the environment and for farming in the UK, whilst Fox has been in America getting-up close and cosy discussing a possible post-Brexit trade deal, which would very likely have to include meat US, produced to both lower husbandry and processing standards, being imported into this country. Read here, industrial-scale animal production with far fewer animals enjoying life outside grazing on grass (at least during the summers) and gobbling-up vast amounts of cereal and soya. Widespread use of growth hormones, antibiotics in feeds and lower cleanliness in poultry slaughter relying on a final clean-up with heavily-chlorinated water. The emphasis here should be about how the meat is produced not about whether the meat id healthy to eat or not.
The UK can’t have post-Brexit both Gove’s ‘gold standard’ environmental standards and Fox’s imported meat produced by cheaper, lower welfare standards. This ‘cheapness’ – with animals paying the difference with their lower standards of well-being, would make both the profitability of UK farmers even harder to achieve and it would also allow meat produced by these morally lower methods into the UK’s food chain.
Came across this shocking story today which to put in a nutshell, is a government department being unconstitutional and rounding-up and probably leading to slaughtering of thousands of wild horses, just so that greedy ranchers get more grazing!
Bill Will Send Them to Slaughter Against the Will of the American People.
Washington, DC (July 18, 2017). Today the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee stripped language from the Department of Interior’s 2018 budged that federally prohibits the slaughter of America’s federally protected wild horse and burro herds.
The amendment, put forth by by Republican Chris Stewart (R-UT) and passed by a voice vote, allows for the destruction of healthy wild horses and burros that Interior Department bureaucrats deem to be surplus. The removal of the protections would result in wild herds across the West being slaughtered on a mass scale. Captured wild horses and burros in government holding facilities would also be subject to being killed en masse.
Suzanne Roy, executive director of The American Wild Horse Campaign, the nation’s leading wild horse advocacy organization, issued a strong statement condemning the Committee’s vote.
“Let’s be clear: House Appropriations Committee members just signed a death warrant for America’s mustangs and it will lead to the wholesale destruction of these irreplaceable national treasures,” Ms. Roy said. “The Stewart amendment is a slaughter amendment, and its proponents are trying to hide that fact from the American people.”
“We will hold these Members of Congress to account for this public deception and unacceptable assault on our wild mustangs,” Ms. Roy said.
Recent public opinion polls and previous polls consistently show that 80% of Americans support protecting wild horses and burros from slaughter, and the vast majority support the use of humane birth control rather than slaughter to manage our nation’s wild horse herds.
The bill now moves onto the full House for a vote. The Senate is expected to take up the issue after the August recess.
About the American Wild Horse Campaign
The American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) (formerly known as the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign) is dedicated to preserving the American wild horse in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage. Its grassroots mission is endorsed by a coalition of more than 60 horse advocacy, humane and public interest organizations.
Ballast-Water Reform. An international agreement on ballast-water, water which is taken on by ships for stability and when discharged, often on the other side of the world releasing invasive species, causing huge problems for local marine wildlife. As of September 8th, all discharged ballast-water will have to be treated beforehand.
Shrinking Shorelines. The UK National Ecosystem Assessment estimates coastal habitat has decreased by 16% since 1945. In England, this has amounted to a loss of some 13,000 hectares with only 800 hectares created or restored.
Pesticides and Profitability. New research from France has found that reduction of pesticide does not necessarily result in reduced crop yields and profitability. The study looked at 946 non-organic arable commercial farms showing contrasting levels of pesticide use and covering a wide range of production situations in France. It was estimated that, on 59% of farms nationally, total pesticide use could be reduced by 42% without any negative effects. France hopes by 2025 to cut pesticide use by 50%. The UK has no plans to reduce overall pesticide use.
Unusual, rousing speech at end of tonight’s Prom concert by conductor Daniel Barenboim in the Royal Albert Hall with the Berlin Staatskepella orchestra, about international isolationism, education, music, Europe and rounding it of with a rousing performance of Land of Hope and Glory. Watch last 15 minutes of the concert on BBC iPlayer!
UPDATE BBC have edited/blacked-out speech! So listen to some of it at https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://youtu.be/PmBDKk6YlF0&ved=0ahUKEwjLsLOA7Y7VAhVBYlAKHTlmAPsQhlQI9wEwHA&usg=AFQjCNEPKEHli664mh8pKFHtoXPYdGzKYg
I remember this being built. It was to be the first of several to this design but I believe because of construction delays and costs, no others were built. I recognised one local face in the construction crew; in the film, there is at times some rather grating accompanying music. Note the masses of ‘personal protective clothing’ worn! The tower, as were all lighthouses in the UK, was later converted to run automatically.
July 7 2017. The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management, (CIWEM).
Green Groups and MPs are calling For an Amendment To the Repeal Bill.
Thirteen major environmental charities in the Greener UK coalition have begun working with a cross-party group of MPs to ensure the Repeal Bill does not “dilute” the force of environmental law in the UK
The MPs that back the amendment so far include Ed Miliband, former Labour Party leader and secretary of state for energy and climate change, and Caroline Lucas, Green Party co-leader.
The government has said that existing UK mechanisms, primarily judicial review and the role of parliament, are enough to replace all the functions currently carried out by EU agencies and the European Court of Justice (ECJ). But these UK mechanisms do not compare to current EU arrangements, the groups say.
Currently, EU agencies play important roles in monitoring the state of the environment, checking governments comply with environmental law and, where necessary, enforcing the law by initiating investigations into possible breaches, including in response to complaints from citizens and civil society organisations. If breaches of the law are identified, remedies and sanctions can be applied, including fines.
Shaun Spiers, chair of Greener UK and executive director at Green Alliance, said: “No one voted for dirtier beaches or worse air quality. The government has promised to bring all environmental protections into domestic law, but laws are only effective when there are strong institutions to enforce them.
“The ultimate risk of fines imposed by the European Court has led the UK government to clean up its act several times – for example, when it stopped pumping raw sewage into oceans on a regular basis and, more recently, being ordered by the courts to publish stronger air quality plans.
“To secure the high level of environmental protection that the public overwhelmingly wants and needs, UK governance institutions must be sufficiently resourced, independent and expert. Otherwise, environmental law will fail.
“The government will protest its good intentions, but it should be establishing systems that are proof against any future government that may want to weaken environmental and other protections.”
The Greener UK coalition formed in response to the EU referendum, united in the belief that leaving the EU is a pivotal moment to restore and enhance the UK’s environment. It brings together 13 major environmental organisations, including the RSPB, Wildlife Trusts, National Trust, and WWF.
The Great Repeal Bill will end the supremacy of EU law and return power to the UK.
Amendments. The text of Repeal Bill amendment the groups are recommending the following:
(1) The relevant Ministers must, before the UK’s exit from the EU, make provision that all powers and functions relating to the UK that were carried out by an EU institution before the date of the UK leaving the EU will—
(a) continue to be carried out by an EU institution; or
(b) be carried out by an appropriate existing or newly created domestic body; or
(c) be carried out by an appropriate international body.
(2) For the purposes of this section, powers and functions relating to the UK exercised by an EU institution may include, but are not limited to—
(a) monitoring and measuring compliance with legal requirements,
(b) reviewing and reporting on compliance with legal requirements,
(c) enforcement of legal requirements,
(d) setting standards or targets,
(e) co-ordinating action,
(f) publicising information including regarding compliance with environmental standards.
(3) Within 12 months of the UK’s exit from the EU, the Government shall consult and bring forward proposals for domestic governance arrangements to ensure equivalent provision of the regulatory, monitoring, oversight, accountability, enforcement and other functions relating to the UK currently provided by EU institutions, by providing for the establishment by primary legislation of—
(a) a new independent body or bodies with powers and functions equivalent to those of the relevant EU institutions in relation to the environment; and
(b) a new domestic framework for environmental protection and improvement.
(4) For the purposes of this section ‘EU institution’ includes but is not limited to—
(a) the European Commission;
(b) the European Environment Agency;
(c) the European Chemicals Agency; and
(d) the European Court of Auditors.
(5) Responsibility for any functions or obligations arising from EU-derived UK law for which no specific provision has been made immediately after commencement of this Act will belong to the relevant Minister until such a time as specific provision for those functions or obligations has been made.
This article was originally posted on CIWM Journal Online.
July 4. Flock of about 20 oystercatchers perched on one of the reefs that run out here and there along the beach at St.Leonards this afternoon.
July 8. Trained to Brighton… Beautiful show of hollyhocks at Berwick station, real cottage flowers! Scrub is still being allowed to increase in area at a number of locations along the Firle Escarpment Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). This is one of SE England’s major landscape features and if attitudes, government grants, and funding for Natural England staff do not change before too long, this majestic view will be lost to future generations. In a field near Firle, saw windrows of straw from an early combined crop of cereal. People who criticise on aesthetic grounds the Rampion wind farm some 10 miles seaward of Brighton, should turn their gaze 90 degrees and consider the factory chimney (aka i-360 attraction), parked on Brighton’s promenade! Evening withdrawal of some evening train services meant I was stuck on Lewes station for about an hour from 8-45pm but I was rewarded by one of Nature’s spectacles. I became aware of lots of jackdaw chatter emanating some 200m away in trees in Southover Road. Over the next hour, wave upon wave of jackdaws came in low over the station from the south-east, many beginning to chatter on their final approach to their companions already settled amongst the crowns of the tall trees. I was left wondering how they all managed to fit into the the available space. Home at 22-45!
July 9. Sensible dogs, and Englishmen go out in the midday sun! Why sit on baking-hot pebbles when you can lay on cool, damp ones or even better, in the water!
July 14. Buff-tailed bumble bees bottoms-up on artichokes on my allotment.
July 19. during the evening, I counted some 20-24 swifts over the centre of St.Leonards. Another couple of weeks and I guess they’ll have largely departed south.