Thanks to legal action by Mark Avery, Natural England has produced a new Habitats Regulations Assessment of the Walshaw Moor Estate’s proposed track across blanket bog.
On the basis of this new Habitats Regulations Assessment – which concludes that the track would cause permanent loss and damage to protected habitat, as well as negatively affecting protected birds – Natural England have written to Calderdale and Pendle local planning authorities objecting to the proposal to build a track across Walshaw Moor.
Despite the Estate’s claims that the proposed track was to enable fire engines to quickly reach the site of possible fires, it is intended for the convenience of grouse shooters.
You can read more about this on Mark Avery’s blog here.
Now it’s up to Calderdale and Pendle Councils’ planning committees to say no to Walshaw Moor Estate’s planning application.
And it’s also more than time for Natural England need to tackle the Grouse Butts that have been put in without planning permission, the tarmac car parks that have been constructed and the other unconsented works that Walshaw Moor Estate has carried out on this highly protected Natura 2000 site.
As Mark Avery blogged today
“Natural England – you need to look in the mirror
Our latest victory to protect moorland habitat was a victory against Natural England, the government agency and regulator whose job it is to protect such habitats.
Just read that sentence again.
The government agency which we pay to protect the environment has been forced, eventually, to do the right thing because of a legal challenge taken by an individual. How low has Natural England fallen?
This was not a technical error, a mere slip-up, by NE – I believe this was a deliberate decision somewhere in the organisation to pander to shooting and landowner interests at the expense of the environment and public interest. If I am right, that is a corrupt system that can no longer command public support or respect.
The new interim Natural England Chief Executive, Marian Spain, should institute an enquiry into what went wrong here, heads should roll and a statement be made about how Natural England will put its house in order….
Natural England must ask itself how it came to pander to powerful interest groups in the uplands and to turn its back on its regulatory duties, the environment and the public it is there to serve.”