Saturday, 1 August 2015
HT at the CLA Game Fair
It was a good day at Harewood, yesterday, for the CLA Game Fair. There was good representation from the organisations that we work with, and some we would like to work with. As ever, the gathering of the clans provided an opportunity to catch up with people I have not seen for a while, for many years in some cases, and to exchange views about what has happened and what we would like to happen.
I attended the workshop in the Game Fair Theatre that assembled: Owen Paterson (former Sec of State for Environment), Mark Avery (former Conservation Director, RSPB), Philip Merricks (Farmer & Chairman, Hawk & Owl Trust) and Ian Coghill (Chairman, GWCT). The topic for discussion was "Landowners and Wildlife: Friends or Foes?". There was an interesting exchange of contrasting views: Owen Paterson quoted 'when the state owns; nobody owns and, when nobody owns, nobody cares' and Mark Avery followed him by stating a wish for more public ownership of land. Messrs Coghill and Avery sought to score points off each other, and Philip Merricks commented that the adversarial approach is ineffective and there is no alternative but to be friends. In spite of these contrasting views, the discussion did not really take off, and we came away none the wiser.
From a Heather Trust perspective, I side with Philip Merricks. We need dialogue and a commitment to move forward; brick throwing from silos will generate heat, but no light. Owen Paterson proved that he is a loss to front bench politics.