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Saving our forests is seeing the wood for the trees

Maureen Comber joins in the attack.
She writes to Damian Hinds, MP for East Hampshire

This expensive, centralised, autocratic body is now taking ownership and steamrollering over 1000 years of our laws and customs for bureaucratic convenience and money.

Says Maureen Comber

Says Maureen Comber I have been meaning to write for some time with regard to the coalition and cuts. So far so good but there are several really massive savings that could be made by demolishing Government Quangos.

The first that comes to mind is Natural England. (NE). It is probably first in my line of fire for the dictatorial manner in which it conducts its business locally, and nationally, by encouraging LA's like HCC or MOD to fence in common land on the fictitious basis that they are the landowners of some commons. On this pretext they apply for funding from NE who in turn uses the Agri-Environment schemes to apply for EU funding which is really meant for Agriculture and farming. I should briefly explain that LA's are the guardians of some of our commons, but common land has historically been the preserve of the common man so the LA is really there to protect our open spaces rather than assume ownership.

NE started out sometime in the 1970's under the name of the Nature Conservancy Council after which it changed its name to English Nature and then again to Natural England. I just wonder how many layers of governance we need with Defra, the Countryside Commission, Forestry Commission, National Parks, let alone all the local land management groups such as in this area, the Hants and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, HCC's own Countryside Dept, Local Access Forums of which I have written to you before, etc etc.

This must be all very costly especially since there is an element of overlapping to some degree.

Not only that but this government has pledged to devolve power to local people, so why does it need this expensive, centralised, autocratic body, which is now taking ownership and steamrollering over 1000 years of our laws and customs for bureaucratic convenience and money.

In addition, surely if they had been doing their job we would not now be seeing such a serious decline in our honeybees and other pollinators/insects. Studies would have been funded to ascertain where the problem lies. Is it GM which is basically responsible, by continued use of a known pollinator(and other) depressant (neonicotinoids) which decreases the productivity and increases the price of conventional crops, and that the production of GM crops in Africa requires a cost beneficial market. A Western market.

I know not, but it is obvious that Natural England can think no higher than falsely claiming funds from the Agri-Environment schemes in order to ultimately steal the publics land, our common land.

I find myself in agreement with the writer of the following email who is himself one of this country's top plant breeders. He says as follows:

"The assumption we all make in attributing expertise to those in power is no better exemplified than in our dealings with Natural England.

A national organisation, based in Sheffield, with an internal budget of 400m(when last I looked) but with the 'brief' of administering billions over 10 years on so called Agri/Env schemes. Steeped in mystery, divorced from the public through the adoption of false epithets for purely natural phenomena, driven by agendas rather than best practice and imposing regimes with knowledge of cause but no knowledge of effect, this organisation justifies all it does on the inevitable collapse of Eco systems. This inevitability trumps their sustainability card as without population control,the curbing of materialism or the increasing need for food(on a decreasing land mass) ALL NE does is create a placebo. A palliative to assure the public and assuage the burden of guilt that many feel in the face of global catastrophes.

In short a waste of huge revenue that relies on global degradation to generate the fuel NE uses---money!

To compliment NE by attributing 'science' to their arrogant, undemocratic and, in some instances, unlawful activities is insulting in that;

1.NE 'science' is created to show partiality to proposed agendas.
2.NE accept incomplete science as a basis for action.
3.NE only uitilise conservation' science' despite these schemes being environmental.
4.NE actively avoid collating scientific data on environmental impacts(Access data etc).
5.NE promote misinformation to garner support.
6.NE ignore expertise in conflict with their own and deny localism.

The crux of the next 10 year cycle is that it is marketed as "environmental" but NE are bulldozing a misguided conservation driven scheme, grounded in elitist and messianic attitudes, that deny environmental benefit with no guarantees of success within that conservation agenda.

ESA, over a two decade period, resulted in 38% degradation in Cornwall because EN/NE failed to monitor or enforce management. Those flaws associated with accountability still exist and, in fact, are more pointed now but were never mentioned when justification for the current imposition were needed!!!

Were this current scheme truly environmental it would embrace our legal heritage, access, create employment, exploit the economics of natural areas, instigate alternative and innovative management, introduce curricular activity at school/university level and produce understandable husbandry and language that is welcomed.

NE is partial in structure and will remain so until accountability is demanded of it.

I,for one,demand that NE be investigated,disassembled,and environmental resources be placed at the disposal of local 'environmental cooperatives'.

Further the NE board must be made to account for unlawful activities over a wide range of issues.

The exclusion of horses, disabled etc is but a symptom of far deeper and serious issues but is a very important factor in bringing about an understanding of those issues and ensuring the reestablishment of rural democracy." I rest my case but please will you forward this email to David Cameron and his Cabinet for their consideration.

I pine for a more sensible approach to saving our forests

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