Defra is failing to develop and implement a coherent strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to a report in the Times newspaper. The Prime Minister has charged all Government Departments to prepare plans to help meet the target of net zero by 2050. The leaked memo quoted in the Times said that ‘Defra is currently not on track to deliver against its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets… and does not have an agreed policy pipeline that allows us to meet them’. Perhaps this is why Carrie Symonds, the Prime Minister’s fiancé and environmental campaigner, is alleged to have demanded the sacking of Secretary of State George Eustice.
War with France
Ancient enmities resurfaced recently in the form of a spat about fishing rights around the Channel Island of Jersey after Brexit. Under the agreement, Jersey issued 41 licences to French boats to fish in its waters with arrangements dependent upon historic fishing. The French claim that some of these are inadequate but Jersey responded by saying that was due to insufficient evidence supplied by the French. Around 60 French fishing boats went to blockade St Helier harbour whilst the French Government threatened to cut off electricity supplies to Jersey, 95% of which come from France. The British sent in two Royal Navy gunboats, a move matched by the French. Negotiations have now taken place which has defused the situation somewhat.
The weather last month was extraordinary. It was the coldest April for at least 60 years with ground frosts on 22 nights compared to an average of 12. But it was also very sunny, possibly beating all records, and extremely dry with some areas receiving virtually no rain at all. Owners of vineyards in France have been bemoaning the impact of frost but here the vines are hardly in bud and thus little damage has been done – yet. However, if the frosts continue, there will be increasing concern for the yields of many fruits.
Maize for silage, a staple for most dairy and beef herds, has now been planted, mostly into bone dry soils. The recent rains have come, with an admirable sense of timing, to provide moisture for the seeds to germinate. All that is needed now is some warmer weather to raise soil temperatures.