- Written by Gus Jones
- Category: Debates
- Published: 25 March 2013
An Camas Mòr - Site Of Proposed 1500 House New Town Development
The treasured landscapes and wildlife of the Cairngorms need your help. Developers are planning a whole new town and several large housing estates in sensitive areas in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park. BSCG has joined with the Cairngorms Campaign and the Scottish Campaign for National Parks to challenge this. We are appealing an important point of law in the September 21st 2012 Opinion of Judge Lord Glennie that related to these potentially damaging proposals.
We and our QC respectfully believe that Lord Glennie misinterpreted the terms of the European Habitats Directive relating to the 'appropriate assessments' of Natura 2000 sites.If we win this appeal, which is being heard on March 12th 2013, it will be a significant judgement that should force the Cairngorms National Park Authority to revise its whole approach to safeguarding European sites. More widely it should help to ensure a stronger application of the Habitats Directive that would be more in line with a precautionary approach to planning development.
This challenge comes in the year of ‘Natural Scotland’. It also comes soon after the National Geographic magazine listed the Cairngorms as the only British entry in the Top 50 of the World’s Last Great Places, along with such locations as Madagascar and the Gobi desert.Legal action is serious and expensive: we need to urgently raise £30,000 to cover the cost of the court hearing.
All donations are most gratefully received and can be made by clicking the 'Donate' button to the right. For more information please visit www.safeguardthecairngorms.org.uk
- Written by Super User
- Category: Meetings
- Published: 17 April 2013
Wildlife Great and Small the new Biodiversity Action Plan for the Cairngorms. Illustrated Talk
By Andy Ford, Cairngorms Nature Manager, CNPA.
Inverallan Church Hall, Grantown-on-Spey Thursday 2 May 7.30PM
All welcome. Admission Free.
Please print and display event poster.
Further information Tel 01479 821 491.
- Written by Gus Jones
- Category: Debates
- Published: 11 April 2013
Discarded shells of fresh water pearl mussels are evidence of illegal poaching in Scottish rivers. Copyright Peter Cosgrove.
Highland list MSP Mary Scanlon who is species champion for the freshwater pearl mussel (Margartifera margartifera) has asked questions about this globally threatened species that has a stronghold in the Highlands. Fresh water pearl mussels are meant to be protected in rivers like the River Spey where the pearl mussel is an internationally qualifying interest. Climate change, pollution and illegal persecution are however all problems faced by pearl mussels in Scotland. This remarkable mollusc is one of the species about which BSCG has consistently raised concern in the context of our legal challenge to the Cairngorms National Park 2010 local plan and appropriate assessment of housing allocations with implications for rivers like the Spey. The first Cairngorms Biodiversity Action Plan recognized the fresh water pearl mussel as a key cairngorms species.
The freshwater pearl mussel is one of the priority species mentioned and illustrated in the first Cairngorms LBAP that published these photos by Peter Cosgrove and Sue Scott.
Mary Scanlon: To ask the Scottish Government how many people have been (a) prosecuted, (b) fined and (c) imprisoned under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 for taking, disturbing or harming a freshwater pearl mussel.
Mary Scanlon: To ask the Scottish Government how many licences have been obtained to sell freshwater pearls from Scottish rivers in each of the last 14 years.
Mary Scanlon: To ask the Scottish Government what action is being taken to ensure that the freshwater pearl mussel is protected while hydroelectric schemes are being developed in rivers with pearl mussel colonies.
Mary Scanlon: To ask the Scottish Government what action is being taken to identify sites for a reintroduction programme for the freshwater pearl mussel.
Mary Scanlon: To ask the Scottish Government how many freshwater pearl mussel sites have been found to be criminally damaged in each of the last 14 years.
Mary Scanlon: To ask the Scottish Government what action is being taken to assess the freshwater pearl mussel populations in non-designated rivers.
- Written by Gus Jones
- Category: Debates
- Published: 08 April 2013
MP Danny Alexander is a fan of micro breweries. In a debate in March 2013 he expressed admiration for micro-breweries saying " one in my constituency has recently produced a beer called Ginger Rodent, which sold out in its first run". BSCG is delighted that Danny has indicated that were he to be a Westminster Species Champion the species would have to be the red squirrel.
Photo BSCG April 2013 Carrbridge.
BSCG calls on Danny Alexander MP to back crucial amendment to UK Energy Bill (‘the Yeo amendment’)
A crucial amendment to the Energy Bill needs support. The amendment would bring in a decarbonisation target in 2014 that many consider is vital to drive the investment required to help meet UK climate change targets.
BSCG is disappointed that so far Danny Alexander MP Liberal Democrat Treasury chief secretary has not supported this amendment. MPs and over 100 businesses and organisations including Siemens, ASDA, the Women’s Institute and Stop Climate Chaos Coalition have all backed this amendment which is also supported by independent experts.
Ed Davey, the Lib Dem energy and climate change secretary, has said that most businesses he has spoken to support the target contained in the Yeo amendment.
Danny’s lack of support to date is all the more disappointing because in April 2013 he said, “it is never too soon to tackle climate change” and in 2006, commenting on climate change, stated, there is “no more important concern on a global level” and "climate change is one of our biggest policy concerns”.
A WWF spokesperson, warning that the government was not aligning its policies with the advice of the statutory Energy and Climate Change Committee, has commented that, "The government has started to show a disturbing willingness to question the committee's advice. Ignoring it brings into question their commitment to deliver on the UK's world-leading Climate Change Act."
He has pointed out that the Yeo amendment “will give confidence to businesses and investors now, not at some vague point in the future as proposed by the government. A carbon intensity target would help the UK attract investment in a new British supply chain with thousands of jobs across the country and show that we're serious about reducing emissions and embracing clean renewable energy."
Only last year Danny Alexander accused some Conservatives of waging a "constant war of attrition" on green issues, warning that it is endangering billions in green investment, as well as the whole government growth strategy. He described how the government has to deal with conservative backbenchers – including those he calls "luddite" climate change deniers – opposing green technologies. He was reported as saying "I just don't think the British economy can any more afford to have a blue roadblock to green growth," We agree he is right to criticise those trying to claim that green policies will hinder growth if they make British industry less competitive (See Danny Alexander: Tories must stop trashing green agenda http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/sep/21/danny-alexander-stop-tories-trashing-green-agenda }
We hope Danny Alexander MP will eventually decide to back the Yeo amendment.
- Written by Gus Jones
- Category: Insects
- Published: 18 March 2013
See also BSCG’s leaflet on Groundhoppers of Badenoch & Strathspey written by Tim Ransom.
Grasshoppers and Crickets by Ted Benton was published in 2012 in the Collins New Naturalist Series (paperback £30).
This book on grasshoppers and their allies, that are in the insect order of Orthoptera, is packed with information. It has a feast of illustrations and includes a CD and written commentary that provides a fascinating insight into the behaviour of many British species.
A chapter on ecology and conservation of the British species includes what I found to be an absorbing account of pioneering studies of the ecology of this group. It also reviews more recent studies providing insight into the very low abundance and species richness in modern intensively farmed landscapes where biodiversity has been lost and opportunities need to be taken to restore it.
As well as numerous photos of grasshoppers, crickets and groundhoppers the pictures extend to representations of grasshoppers like the Gresham grasshopper at the Royal Exchange in London. There are photos of a range of other invertebrates. For example a stick insect, cockroaches, a mantid, a wasp spider, a solitary wasp and the striking caterpillar of the sycamore moth find a place too. There are even portraits of birds - an Asian paradise flycatcher and a satin bowerbird. These, with photos of the naturalists Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin, are included in a chapter on mating systems and sexual selection.
The species accounts follow a similar format to that found in Bumblebees also in the New Naturalist series and by Ted Benton, published in 2006. Both these well illustrated volumes have sections that can be dipped into for reference. There is an easily located identification key (pages 216 -238) that acknowledges that groundhoppers can be difficult to distinguish with certainty and confident identification should be based on several characters. This is illustrated with line drawings that are also numerous in a chapter on structure and function, describing such features as senses and acoustic apparatus.
Rare long-winged form of the common groundhopper
The distribution maps of British species are a useful feature. The map for the slender groundhopper omits the first Strathspey record (recorded by BSCG from a site threatened with development at Boat of Garten) although this was reported in British Wildlife before the book’s publication date.
The account of the common groundhopper, citing a 1988 general work, mentions strong populations in ancient pine and birch woods. Benton comments that this species has quite exacting habitat requirements and is vulnerable to such things as habitat loss from ‘development’. The fully- winged (or ‘macropterous’) form of the common groundhopper has been recorded by BSCG since 2009 on threatened sites in Strathspey. No illustration of this long-winged form is provided. Reviewing the status of this uncommon form, Benton mentions that it was listed from two Scottish sites by Kevan (1952) and referred to by Haes and Harding in the 1997 Atlas of Grasshoppers, Crickets and Allied insects of Britain and Ireland.
The book ends with many useful references covering an impressive range of topics, including for example the place of grasshoppers and crickets in Amerindian culture. I found Grasshoppers and Crickets an engaging and authoritative account of a fascinating group of insects that deserve increased attention in Scotland.