Thursday, 26 September 2013

Relax UK national parks legislation, advocates Defra Secretary Owen Paterson

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Owen Paterson's speech at the Conference of the Association of National Park Authorities was published today. I heard him discussing his views on BBC Radio 4's Farming Today. Using a perversion of the concept of biodiversity offsetting (since, by definition, national parks already are already offsetting  development elsewhere) Paterson advocates relaxing the UK's already weak protected area legislation to allow for the expansion of unspecified infrastructure.

We are working to reduce the unnecessary burdens that hold back rural business, not least our farmers. I see my role as getting out of people’s hair.
This is why I am particularly interested in Biodiversity Offsetting.
Offsetting gives us a chance to improve the way our planning system works. It gets round the long-running conundrum of how to grow the economy at the same time as improving the environment. It could provide real opportunities in our National Parks, where the necessary extension of a farm building could result in the enhancement of an existing habitat or the creation of a new one.

Paterson is not known for his knowledge of environmental matters and publicly struggles with even the most basic concepts. It is not clear whether (as in his previous failure to grasp the evidence related to badger-culling, effects of neonicotinoids and climate change) he simply does not understand what national parks are or what biodiversity offsetting means, or whether (as with his rather more sinister role in raptor persecution or privatisation of the Forestry Commission) he is deliberately sabotaging the resources he is entrusted to protect. Merely incompetent or willfully negligent? In either case it is clear that he should now be removed from his post.


  1. Great comments Chris - loved reading this crucifiction of our beloved DEFRA minister.

    1. No need for me to crucify him - ecolgists from Bob May to John Krebs have done that. I am just surprised that he can carry on at this level of incompetence. Frankly, the man's a buffoon.