Eustice Secretary of State
In the first major reshuffle of his Cabinet after the General Election, the Prime Minister has appointed George Eustice as Secretary of State for Defra to replace Theresa Villiers. He has served as farm minister since 2013, apart from five months last year when he resigned from Theresa May’s Government. Whilst he may lack the political clout of Michael Gove, he certainly has a great knowledge and experience of farming and rural affairs. He leads a Defra team of Zac Goldsmith, Rebecca Pow and Lord Gardiner of Kimble.
Defra held a consultation last year on General Licences for the control of birds such as crows and pigeons after the debacle a year ago. The current General Licences expire at the end of February but it is too soon to have recommendations from the consultation. As a result, Defra has re-issued the current licences as an interim measure until new ones can be implemented from 1st August. Wild Justice has once again threatened Judicial Review.
Preventing Wild Fires
The recent massive outbreak of wild fires in Australia has concentrated the minds of experts across the world. Scientists say that fighting fires of the scale seen in Australia is ineffective and the only control is to prevent them. One of the best ways to do that is to have controlled fires in the damp season to remove the most combustible material. This is precisely one of the benefits of the rotational burning of heather on moorland to encourage fresh new growth and yet there are constant cries to ban the practice.
World Shortage of Lamb
The price of lamb has risen sharply in recent weeks amidst fears that imports from countries such as New Zealand are dwindling. One reason given for this is a big increase in demand for imports into China to replace sales of pork that have been decimated by African Swine Fever.