BY BEN EAGLE Last week I travelled down to the west country to speak to a group of National Trust staff and volunteers about communications in the countryside. In short, the message I was giving went thus: from rural homelessness to internet connectivity to biodiversity loss the countryside faces a wide range of challenges and with an increasingly urban population it is vital that people … Continue reading The Countryside After Brexit
BY BEN EAGLE It was with a sigh of relief that I learned that Michael Gove was not moving to the Department for Exiting the European Union last week. Quite understandably most people were probably focused on the destination rather than the starting line. However, my eyes, as usual, were pointing towards Defra. The last thing that food, farming and the environment needs at this … Continue reading We Need Stability at DEFRA
BY BEN EAGLE Striding along the cow-parsley avenue my mind wanders, escaping the everyday. Jess the spaniel jumps among the sheaves of wheat in the field adjacent and I call her to my side. She initially ignores the demand, as usual, and then sprints towards me, over-passing on the path. I am sauntering towards the wood which lies just a few hundred metres from where … Continue reading The Wood
BY BEN EAGLE I admit it, I’m a Gove convert. However, when he was appointed to his role as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the Cabinet reshuffle of June last year I took a big gulp and expected the worst. I was highly sceptical, looking back on his history in the Department for Education and his status as a Leave … Continue reading Converting to Gove
BY BEN EAGLE Yesterday I joined a local birder on the regular BTO survey (of wading birds) for our local patch. As we set out across the marsh it was still well below freezing, but the sun was bright and the frost glistened. A beautiful day. It was my job to act as scribe, as Paul (not his real name) called out numbers of various … Continue reading Wildlife Volunteer in 2018?
BY BEN EAGLE “To me, England is the country, and the country is England. And when I ask myself what I mean by England, when I think of England when I am abroad, England comes to me though my various senses – through the ear, through the eye and through certain imperishable scents. .The sounds of England, the tinkle of the hammer on the anvil … Continue reading The Myth of England
BY BEN EAGLE People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have lost the plot. A couple of weeks ago a representative from their organisation appeared on ITV’s This Morning programme with Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield to ‘inform’ viewers that sheep shearing is an inherently cruel practice and should be banned. Elisa Allen called on viewers to stop buying and wearing wool and instead … Continue reading PETA Have Lost the Plot
BY BEN EAGLE I was due to be walking the Coleridge Way in a few weeks’ time. For those of you who don’t know it, the Coleridge Way is a 51 mile long distance walking route in Somerset and north Devon, starting (or ending depending on whether you walk east to west or west to east) in Nether Stowey and finishing in Lynmouth. It crosses … Continue reading Wild Camping For All
BY BEN EAGLE On the 18th July this year 33-year-old Devon farmer Todd Riggs was killed in a farm accident. He had been trapped under a trailer and despite the efforts of the emergency services Mr Riggs lost his life. Unfortunately this case is far from unique. Agriculture tops the charts when it comes to the rate of people fatally injured as a result of … Continue reading How Many More Must Die?
BY BEN EAGLE For many of us, it’s a standard part of our day; the phone rings and when you answer you find yourself speaking to somebody who is trying to sell you something or convince you that you have recently had a car accident and should claim compensation through them. You almost certainly didn’t ask them to ring. At best the call will irritate … Continue reading The Nuisance of Nuisance Calls
BY BEN EAGLE They say that politics today is utterly unpredictable. However, unless I am very much mistaken, it’s looking increasingly likely that President May with her ‘hard’ Brexit Tory henchmen will be returned to Downing Street next month with quite a hefty majority of yes men and women on the green benches in the Commons, willing to pass Mrs May’s every wish. There will … Continue reading The Tory Manifesto: What’s in it for the Countryside?