Politics

Buzzard U-Turn Cameron's Latest 'Environmental Blunder', Say Labour

Pasties, caravans, secret justice and now buzzards - the government has made its fourth U-turn in just three days.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) had announced plans to look at "non-lethal" methods of controlling buzzards amid fears the birds were targeting pheasants.

However on Wednesday wildlife minister Richard Benyon said the government had changed its mind in light of "public concerns" expressed in recent days.

"I have decided to look at developing new research proposals on buzzards," he said.

"The success of conservation measures has seen large increases in the numbers of buzzards and other birds of prey over the last two decades.

At the same time it is right that we make decisions on the basis of sound evidence and we do need to understand better the whole relationship between raptors, game birds and other livestock."

Mary Creagh MP, Labour’s shadow environment secretary, welcomed the move yet said the decision showed the government had become "increasingly shambolic".

"I am delighted that this out-of-touch Government has dropped its ill-thought through plans to use taxpayers’ money to destroy our native buzzards’ nests to 'protect' pheasants," she said.

"This was the latest environmental blunder from a Government that has long forgotten its pre-election green promises with the forests sell-off and badger cull.

"This is just the latest in a long line of U-turns from David Cameron's increasingly shambolic Government.”

However the Countryside Alliance condemned the government's change of heart and said it showed ministers were just "willing to give in to whoever shouts the loudest".

“The Countryside Alliance is bitterly disappointed by Defra’s U-turn on this sensible, proportionate, study into buzzard control," it said.

"While the breeding success of buzzards in Britain over the last decade can be been welcomed by all, it has had an impact on other parts of the countryside that now needs proper consideration.

“Wild animal management is an essential part of the countryside that is largely misunderstood by those in towns, cities and, apparently, Whitehall."