Flooding: The Baroness Young and RSPB connection is even stronger than first identified

An interesting document has surfaced on the European Commission’s website, which enables us to understand a bit more of the complicated ‘wheels within wheels’ of overlapping organisational responsibility for the deliberate policy of surrendering managed environments to floodwater that has seen much of the Somerset levels submerged.

The document is the ‘Wise use of floodplains – a demonstration of techniques to evaluate and plan floodplain restoration’.  In other words, giving back reclaimed wetland that had been drained and while a managed environment had become home to many small communities and farms.

What stands out about this document is that the project (which is outlined on the short document linked above) is the timing and the funding.  It ran from 1st April 1999 until 1st April 2002 and was co-funded by the RSPB (which was the driving force behind the project) and the WWF to the tune of €1,056,065.85, a sum that was topped up with almost 50% of matched funding from the European Union – some €1,052,044.45 of taxpayers’ money – taking the total project budget to €2,108,110.30.

The timing and funding sources are significant because this kicked off in 1999 while Barbara Scott Young, aka Baroness Young of Old Scone the Labour peer, was the Chief Executive of… the RSPB.  Little over a year later, Baroness Young left the RSPB to take up appointment as Chief Executive of the very public body that would be able to implement the ‘restoration’ of floodplains and wetlands through policy… the Environmental Agency.

The bird loving flooding facilitator

The bird loving flooding facilitator

In terms of overseeing implementation of the Water Framework Directive and the Habitats Directive, and their policies of ‘restoring’ wetlands and floodplains to a water covered state, Young’s transfer from the RSPB to the Environment Agency was the political equivalent of putting the fox in charge of the hen house.

In no way can it be argued that Labour put an impartial Chief Executive in charge of the Environment Agency, someone who would use the agency’s substantial human and financial resources to best effect to ensure adequate protection of the communities and businesses located in managed environments such as the Somerset levels.

Labour put in place one of their own to fulfil EU policy underpinned by a number of directives; a woman who was a zealot in matters of wildlife and habitats and whose approach we have already reported was in order to achieve ‘instant wildlife: just add water‘.  A woman whose desired outcome for the pumping stations that prevented the Somerset levels from being drowned was to destroy them with limpet mines to ensure reclaimed land was flooded again, in the expectation that habitats for the birds she values above the lives and livelihoods of the communities that would be swamped.

The moment Barbara Young was put in charge of the Environment Agency, the events of this winter (and last winter on a smaller scale) became inevitable.  When she was appointed what we saw was a RSPB take over the Environment Agency.  Backed by EU directives, the RSPB’s woman in the Environment Agency hot seat set about pursuing the wishes of the bird lovers.  Dredging was scaled back.  Pumping stations were left to ruin.

Millions of pounds that could and should have been used to safeguard managed environments through proper flood prevention in places like the Somerset levels, instead were allocated at EU behest to hugely expensive and lavish projects to create new habitats on the levels themselves – such as the hundreds of hectares of the Steart Peninsula being transformed into new saltmarsh and freshwater wetlands to attract species including wading birds and wildfowl, rare water voles and great crested newts at a cost of £20 million, while £3 million required for essential flood maintenance in the same area could not be found.  There is no way the Environment Agency left behind by Barbara Young would fight for such skewed spending priorites to be altered.  These kind of projects were what she always wanted and the EA has been delivering them with relish.

While the RSPB – part of Birdlife International – is in this mess up to its neck it does not prevent it from engaging in the most sickening hypocrisy, as in January when it joined with the Somerset Wildlife Trust (which also seems to prioritise birds over other wildlife) to call on MPs and others to press government and its agencies to develop a water management strategy for a more flood-resilient future on the Somerset Levels that benefits both people and wildlife – while expressing ‘concern’ over calls for the very dredging that has previously prevented such flood destruction in the past.  This was just an earlier instance of this week’s example of those who have brought about the situation in Somerset throwing up one vast smokescreen to conceal their complicity in action which directly led to the flooding disaster and magnified its effects.

But what of the RSPB’s partner in this plot to ethnically cleanse people off the Somerset levels, the WWF?  A trawl of their press centre shows they have not issued one release about the impact of the flooding on the Somerset levels on wildlife.  Rare butterflies, wild flowers, badger, vole, mouse and many other species, some of them rare have been killed by the flooding and had their own habitat polluted.  But from the WWF we hear nothing – bar calls for farmers to allow ‘small floods‘ on their land to prevent wider flooding downstream.  There is no mention of their complicity in or support of the ‘restoration’ of wetlands which led to environmental management decisions that have made this flooding so bad.

Overseas the WWF seems quite happy to rush in and comment on flooding, as they did in Poland in 2010, where they criticised development on floodplains.  But even then their intervention had a familiar ring to it.  Cue a reference to our old friend, Making Space for Water which we referenced in this earlier post.  The WWF made a deeply ironic observation that people in the Somerset levels might take issue with, when they claimed that:

More and more rivers around the world have been seeing projects to restore wetlands as natural wet and dry season reservoirs, with dramatic reductions in flood damage being only one of the benefits.

As for the WWF’s direction of travel, we note that earlier this month the organisation announced the appointment of Dr Marco Lambertini as Director General of WWF International.  This is noteworthy because he is currently the Chief Executive of… Birdlife International, the global partner of the RSPB.  Clearly the wheels within wheels are turning at an international level even outside the governance top table of the EU where such organisations sit as equals alongside representatives of national governments, informing and directing policy agendas in their own interests rather than the people in the European Union, who have no vehicle or method to exert anything like that kind of influence.

It is common to hear people say this country is going to the dogs.  All the evidence that is accumulating so far suggests that is wrong.  Thanks to the power wielded by certain organisations it is clearly going to the birds – helped by those who claim to love animals too.

15 Responses to “Flooding: The Baroness Young and RSPB connection is even stronger than first identified”

  1. 1 Ivor Ward 22/02/2014 at 1:09 pm

    Revolving doors.

  2. 2 The Gray Monk 22/02/2014 at 1:29 pm

    I think you’ll find that this paper, and the Noble Baroness’ tenure, covers the reduction in maintenance of sea defences as well – the argument being that these ‘sea fencibles’ were ‘wetlands’ until nasty capitalist farmers reclaimed them from the sea and drove the water fowl off them …

    I find it astonishing how we, in the UK, do nothing to stop erosion on the grounds that to do so would be contrary to EU Directives and ‘bad’ for the Lesser Fruitbat Beetlesnail population centred on Little Wittering on Sea (which may itself be in imminent danger of falling off an eroding cliff thanks to a failure to repair the sea walls) while our fellow Europeans on the other side of the North Sea interpret the same Directive as meaning they must reinforce existing defences and build more in areas that are vulnerable. I’m sorry to say it, but we do seem to have a knack of picking people to put in charge of things who have only their own narrow and often inappropriate agendas in mind.

    That, and we are often so divided against our own ‘national’ interests, that we allow a small and powerful minority to do as they please. Time we stopped being so damned tribal in our divisions. Anyone would think we still lived as the Brigante, Icene, Silurians, etc.

  3. 3 cosmic 22/02/2014 at 5:38 pm

    The interesting thing here is that although you can pick out important players, and Young is undoubtedly important, it’s harder to pick out critical players.

    For instance, she wasn’t put in place with no knowledge of her background and leanings. Almost certainly the idea in choosing her was not that “this wildlife habitat business is OK as far as it goes, but shouldn’t be allowed to get out of hand”. So had she not been selected someone very similar would have been, maybe not as energetic, but going in the same direction.

    The part the RSPB has played in this is quite significant.


    It is remarkable the way that charities have become significant political forces over the past 20 years.

  4. 4 Clive 23/02/2014 at 12:43 pm

    I think people like Young need to bought to account to explain why these directives were carried out without any reference to the people of Somerset or other areas of the UK like East Anglia .The cost of the flooding is astronomical ,this will not worry Baroness Young of course as its other people’s money ,but we all know that Labour are very good at spending ” other people’s money ” .

  5. 5 Barry Harding 23/02/2014 at 4:41 pm

    Clive the truth is the EU itself is anti democratic. And don’t just blame the Labour Party for appointing the wretched Young; the ConLibs have done nothing to reverse the policy. Until folk start voting to exit the EU nothing will change. We all have an opportunity on 22 May with the EU elections. The closest the LibLabCon will let us have to the promised referendum.

  6. 6 Autonomous Mind 23/02/2014 at 6:35 pm

    Voting in the EU elections will not make one jot of difference. The election is meaningless. It’s not an opportunity to achieve anything I’m afraid and it cannot be considered a de facto referendum.

  7. 7 tallbloke 23/02/2014 at 9:04 pm

    AM: “the Harrogate Agenda is a campaign and does not and will not contest elections, you try to deflect the issue by having an ignorant or deliberately deceitful dig by trying to draw yet another nonsensical electoral comparison with UKIP”

    It would appear that the leading lights of the Harrogate Agenda ‘campaign’ are ‘campaigning’ to damage the only electable eurosceptic party’s chances of sending the strongest possible message to the government regarding the electorate’s need for an in-out referendum.

  8. 8 Autonomous Mind 23/02/2014 at 9:21 pm

    There is no campaign against UKIP. Can’t you tell the difference between criticism and a campaign? Your lack of objectivity because of your unquestioning fealty to the party, irrespective of issues that make it unelectable, isn’t cause for pride.

  9. 9 Barry Harding 23/02/2014 at 11:53 pm

    I think you have a very closed dogmatic mind AM. Not worth continuing this conversation.

  10. 10 Autonomous Mind 24/02/2014 at 8:58 am

    I’m sorry if the facts don’t correlate with your wishes Barry, but the Euro elections will not change a thing. That’s not dogmatic, it is the reality. If you think the Euros actually mean anything feel free to explain.

  11. 11 Autonomous Mind 24/02/2014 at 9:10 am

    Actually Barry, and others, perhaps I will explain in a post the more forthright approach taken on this blog over the last year.

  12. 12 TonyT 24/02/2014 at 4:43 pm

    I think it’s wrong to say the May elections are meaningless. It’s all about sending a message that people aren’t happy with the status quo. The surge of UKIP this time last year changed the debate considerably in my opinion, not least forcing Cameron into promising his end of the rainbow referendum. Not ideal but a start.

    UKIP need to up their game without doubt, but for “better off out” voters they are the only option IMHO. A spoilt ballot could be spoilt for any reason, it doesn’t send an anti EU message, just general disenchantment and disengagement.

  13. 13 Autonomous Mind 24/02/2014 at 6:16 pm

    Tony, do you not think the government already know the people aren’t happy? All Cameron did in response was con the people, and the media have bought the line and perpetuate it endlessly even though the reality is there will be no referendum in 2017 or this side of 2020.

    Sending messages is meaningless when they are ignored or the government simply treats people with contempt and makes pledges it has no intention of honouring.

    So on that basis, what is May going to change? History has shown us time and again that change comes from operating outside the electoral and party political system. You know the old adage, if voting changed anything they would ban it.

  14. 14 TonyT 24/02/2014 at 7:59 pm

    Ha ha, although i’m not sure where that leaves direct democracy! Until we get to the latter, It’s all we’ve got as a weapon.

    I look to want happened in Canada as a potential hope, it’s a long term game. But perhaps you are right – plus ca change, plus c’est la meme.

    I guess we all have to follow our own instincts on it.

  1. 1 Open goals, media handling, EU and the RSPB / WWF axis | Autonomous Mind Trackback on 01/03/2014 at 8:04 am
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