Today, the Environment Audit Committee has published a report on Wildlife Crime. And a fine report it is; one that we warmly welcome - so congratulations to all involved. Our response has been covered by Martin Harper, our Director of Conservation, here and in an RSPB press release here. All good.
One of the issues raised by the report concerns the use of poisons in bird of prey persecution; substances such as carbofuran and aldicarb.
In response to reports this morning on the "banning" of these substances, a little clarity might be useful. Carbofuran, aldicarb and related poisons are restricted under pesticides' legislation. As Defra were quick to point out, in the case of carbofuran it "had its approval for use revoked several years ago and it is therefore illegal to advertise, sell, supply, store or use it or any other substances that have had their approval similarly revoked." But this isn't the whole story.
The RSPB thinks that the Government is missing an opportunity to provide judges and magistrates with the provision to impose custodial sentences for wildlife crimes involving poisons, rather than just financial penalties for breaches of pesticides' legislation, by not listing these substances under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 (NERC)
Listing them on NERC is really straight forward. And by thus widening the penalties available, the deterrent will be stronger. It's as simple as that.
This call has now been made loud and clear by the Environment Audit Committee report. This is not about bans - its about deterrents.
So the question to Defra is ... will you list them on the NERC act (and the provision already exists to do this) thereby increase the deterrence? And if not, why not?