Dendles Wood – a sorry tale

We have received a response from NE to our information requests about Dendles Wood (see here).

It reveals a sorry tale of inaction .

What we take from this is that, for a National Nature Reserve, owned by us all, the management plan ran out in 2020 and a new one will be written for 2024. That’s pretty pathetic and we wonder whether the new plan will be written and whether it would even have been thought of without our intervention. But it is typical of the rest of the answers – either nothing has been done or nothing much has been done. The Blue Ground Beetle hasn’t been paid much attention at all since 2016 it seems. The most recent condition assessment of the condition of the four SSSI units is 2011 – well over a decade ago. But an update is now scheduled for this year – we wonder whether that was planned before or after our intervention.  This is a picture of a regulator (and in this case, in part a land owner too) failing to carry out its duties. If this is the state of attention given to protected sites across England then the system is in disarray. It probably is in disarray because of government cuts to Natural England but also feebleness by NE themselves.

When it comes to regulation of shooting, it is interesting that Natural England confirms what we thought, that there has been no notification to them of any releases of gamebirds within 500m of the Dartmoor Special Area of Conservation in either 2021 or 2022. We believe that such releases have taken place  and failure to notify Natural England is a serious matter.

However, Natural England don’t regard it as their job to ask about this and instead point the finger at their government department sponsor, Defra, by metaphorically shrugging and saying ‘GL43 is a DEFRA licence and though the conditions of the licence require information on the use of the licence to be submitted to Natural England, monitoring compliance with the licence is DEFRA‚Äôs responsibility. Responsibilities around the investigation and enforcement of suspected breaches of GL43 rest with the Police and the CPS. Outside the scope of GL43, NE is in contact with landowners and estate managers of SSSIs to ensure any conditions relating to SSSI consents are being met.’.  Natural England’s jobsworth view is that it is everyone else’s job to look at these matters, but not theirs. 

We suspect that Defra will be less than thrilled to have been fingered by the statutory body they sponsor as being the body failing on this matter.  We’ll find out – we’ve written to Defra to ask them whether a bowler-hatted person from the ministry, in pin-stripe suit and with a rolled up brolly under their arm has taken the train down to Devon to have a poke around on this issue. We’ve also written back to Natural England. 

We’re sure we’ll have more to tell you about on this issue.