Natural England, negligence and misfeasance in public office





Sue Beale - On a site visit on Friday the 20th September 2013, Ms Beale was willing to communicate about some issues, but not about fences on other farmers land, and the flooding that has caused most of the problems on this site, about which Natural England have know since 2009, but taken no enforcement action against those responsible. Rather, they have targeted another landowner who has no control over the pumping station that has not been managed since the retirement many years ago of the original operator.




The NE Board has corporate responsibility for ensuring that Natural England fulfils the aims and objectives set by the Secretary of State. The main roles of the Board are to establish Natural Englandís strategy, approve direction and review performance of the organisation. As a local and national authority, they are bound by Section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998, being that they must not violate any of the Articles of the European Convention. In particular they must act without discrimination and fairly, such as to comply with Articles 14 and 6.


There have though been cases where bias has been a feature of case handling. We are following a live case at the moment, being handled by Cath Jackson and Sue Beale, where permissions had been agreed and a landowner at great financial cost made adjustments, but then having agreed those adjustments would be acceptable, Natural England then sought to prosecute the landowner, even where he had permission from the local council for certain works, and there was no danger to any wildlife being caused by other works, which were to protect grazing animals, that otherwise might escape and either drown, or become a danger to nearby road users.


The site in question lies smack in the middle of Radar Farm and Bunker Hill, otherwise known as RAF Wartling. Further along Wartling Road, the earlier RAF Pevensey is also on the Pevensey Marshes. Prior to initiating proceedings, it has transpired that no archaeological survey of what is now Lion Farm, was undertaken, though it is common knowledge that Natural England regularly work with the likes of English Heritage, when considering how to handle sites with a known heritage.




Sue Beale - "Oh look a blade of grass."





Natural England have refused to indemnify the landowner, should any of their requirements cause him loss. While requiring the landowner, to, in effect, cease farming, Natural England have made no offer of compensation under the Agri-Environment Scheme. These Schemes are publicly-funded and provide payments to farmers who, in return, agree to manage their land for the benefit of the environment. 


Where Natural England have not even advised the landowner of such schemes, and refused to indemnify in case of livestock escaping, etc, we suspect discrimination is the root cause of their behaviour. The identity of the landowner is protected, but an operative has visited the site in question and provided us with verifiable facts in the form of photographic evidence, as to the excellent condition of the land and significant improvements, bound to increase the natural habitats of local fauna. The case continues ......




Emergency fencing to protect livestock against flooding and the ramifications of flood water that may be contaminated. The Pevensey Levels have not been surveyed since at least 2009 and it is unclear as to what that survey revealed. We tried to obtain copy of the data for this area and were told:-




This is an automatically generated message from the NBN Gateway - DO NOT REPLY
The administrator of the dataset "SxBRC Full dataset for Environment Agency and Natural England use only.", held on the NBN Gateway, has not granted you access. You made a request access to this dataset on 19 Sep 2013.


Thank you for your data request via the NBN Gateway. We're unable to allow access to all species data for the whole of Sussex to you but will be more than happy to provide you with desktop biodiversity reports for the sites that you need data for.

We ask that all data requests are submitted via our information request form for the site(s) in question, the form can be found on our website: and you will need to pick 'Commercial user'.

You can see what is included in a desktop biodiversity report if you download the demo report from this webpage:

Although the data itself is free we do charge a fee to cover our administration of the data.

All best wishes, Penny




The burning question is, do any members of staff or the Board have any financial interests in this area? We will be writing to Natural England seeking assurances and clarification if necessary.




Poul Christensen CBE

Mr Poul Christensen CBE - Chair - Date appointed: December 2006

Date appointed as Chair: 3 December 2009 - Appointed until: 31 December 2013


Poul was appointed Chair of Natural England on 3 December 2009. He was Deputy Chair of Natural England from 2006 and served as Acting Chair following the death of Sir Martin Doughty in March 2009.


He is a director of a successful family dairy farming business at Kingston Hill Farm, in Oxfordshire. He has a long track record of integrating conservation with the demands of modern farming.


Throughout his career Poul has taken a prominent role leading the farming sector through changing and challenging times. He is the joint founder of the Tenant Farmersí Association, established in 1981 to provide a voice for tenant farmers. He was previously Chairman of Milk Marque in the late 1990s, steering the dairy sector through a period of significant change, Chair of the Rural Development Service until 2006, overseeing the launch of modern Environmental Stewardship schemes, and a member of the Defra Management Board before taking up the appointment of Chair at Natural England.


He is currently a Director of Agricultural Central Trading Limited, a farmer supply cooperative and is a Board member of the UKís Joint Nature Conservation Committee. Poul was elected as President Elect of the National Federation Of Young Farmers' Clubs, in April 2012, and in the same month was advanced as a Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Societies (FRAgS). He received the Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen's Birthday Honours List in 1991 for services to agriculture and the commercial development of the Agricultural Development Advisory Service (ADAS).


Professor David Hill


Professor David Hill - Deputy Chair

Appointed: 2 May 2006 - Until: 31 March 2014


David was appointed Deputy Chair in February 2011 and has been a member of Natural Englandís Board since 2 May 2006.


His responsibilities include: Northumberland and Yorkshire Dales National Parks, Joint Nature Conservation Committee (as Board member), Natural Englandís Science Advisory Committee and Audit and Risk Committee, and the Natural England, Environment Agency and Forestry Commission Joint Sub-group.


David has significant experience in consultancy, nature conservation and company business strategy. He runs an ecological consultancy company, is Chairman of The Environment Bank Ltd and was previously Chief Scientific Adviser to RPS Group plc. Over the past three years he has been actively involved in promoting environmental markets to provide new and innovative ways of mitigating for impacts on ecosystem services arising from development, industry and corporate businesses.


David is a Fellow and past President of the Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management. He has published extensively on ecological issues over the past 25 years. David is a member of the Governmentís Ecosystem Markets Taskforce.

David is a member of the RSPB, BTO, Norfolk Wildlife Trust and a life member of the National Trust.

William Cockbain


Mr William Cockbain

Appointed: 1 October 2011 - Until: 30 September 2014


Responsibilities from 1 October 2011 include: land management, agriculture and the uplands, Lake District, Peak District and North York Moors National Parks.


William Cockbain farms a large hill farm in the Lake District as part of a family partnership. He was NFU National Uplands spokesman from 2004 until March 2012 when he stood down after 8 years.  


In 2006 he was appointed as Defraís North West Sustainable Food and Farming Champion, a position held until the end of March 2011. He chairs the new Rural and Farming Networks, for Cumbria, North and East Lancashire, and was made an Associate of the Royal Agricultural Societies for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2008 for services to hill farming.


Catherine Graham-Harrison OBE


Ms Catherine Graham-Harrison OBE

Appointed: 1 January 2009 - Until: 31 December 2014


Responsibilities from 30 September 2011 include: Protected Landscapes, with special responsibility for the South Downs and New Forest National Parks, and transport and development. Member of the Audit and Risk Committee until 30 September 2011.


Until 2011, Catherine worked as a Management Consultant, mainly in the not for profit sector, focusing on philanthropy; strategic planning; governance and organisational development.


Prior to that, she was a Vice President of Citibank and then Chief Executive of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. She has held a large number of non executive positions over the past 20 years including being on the board of the Heritage Lottery Fund and a trustee of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.


Catherine has been Chair of the National Forest Company since April 2011 and was appointed Chair of the National Trust Architecture Panel with effect from 1 February 2011.


Joe Horwood


Dr Joe Horwood

Appointed: 1 October 2009 - Until: 30 September 2015


Responsibilities include: Lead Board member for marine and the Broads Authority. Member of the Audit and Risk Committee (until 30 September 2011), Natural England Science Advisory Committee, Marine Protected Areas sub-group on the Joint Nature Conservation Committee and the Natural England, Environment Agency and Forestry Commission Joint Sub-group (ceased July 2012).


Joe Horwood has a background in mathematics and zoology applied in marine ecology and resource management. Former Chief Science Advisor at the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), but retaining a role as Non-Executive Director and Chair of CEFASí Science Advisory Committee. He has been a member of the Board of the International Council for Exploration of the Sea (ICES) since 1998 and was President of ICES from 2006 to 2009. He was also on the Board of the Marine Biological Association from 1998 to 2001.


He has served on the science advisory committees of the International Whaling Commission, ICES and the EC, and on the UKís Marine Science Co-ordination Committee. He is a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society, and of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications, and a member of the British Ecological Society, the Challenger Society and the Suffolk Wildlife Trust. He has published on a variety of marine issues including whales, fisheries and marine protected areas.


Doug Hulyer


Mr Doug Hulyer

Appointed: 2 May 2006 (reappointed 1 June 2011) - Until: 31 May 2014


Responsibilities include: Exmoor and Dartmoor National Parks, access and engagement, management for biodiversity, and climate change adaptation. Member of the Natural England, Environment Agency and Forestry Commission joint sub-group.


Doug is an independent advisor for the heritage and natural environment sector. He was previously the Director of Conservation, Programmes and Developments for the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, and prior to moving to Slimbridge in 1984, one of the first Education Officers in the Wildlife Trust network.


Doug is a committed environmentalist, environmental educator and conservationist with over 30 yearís professional experience. He is a Trustee of the National Heritage Memorial Fund/Heritage Lottery Fund, a member of HLFís South West Committee, and Chair of the NHMF Audit Committee.

Doug is currently Vice-President of the Surrey Wildlife Trust, a member of the Learning & Visitor Experience Panel of the National Trust, and a Fellow of the Society of Biology.   He is a Trustee of Earth Trust, Oxfordshire (HLS received) and Woodchester Mansion Trust (within SSSI).


He also holds memberships in Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, English Heritage, Wildfowl & Wetland Trust, The National Trust, Freshwater Biological Association, and the Institute of Directors, The Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management, Royal Horticultural Society, IUCN Ė Commission on Education and Communication and the National Trust.


In June 2008, Doug ceased his position as Chairman of the Wetland Vision project. Doug was a Council Member for English Nature between 2002-2006, before taking up the appointment of Board Member for Natural England.


Professor David Macdonald


Professor David Macdonald

Appointed: 2 May 2006 (reappointed 1 June 2011) - Until: 30 September 2014


Responsibilities include: Chair of Natural Englandís Science Advisory Committee and biodiversity (land use issues).

David is the Professor of Wildlife Conservation and the Director (and founder) of the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Zoology Department at Oxford University. He is also Chairman of the Darwin Advisory Committee, Defra and Chairman of Earthwatch UK.


David was awarded the 2004 Dawkins Prize for contributions to wildlife conservation. In 2006 he was awarded the Merriam Medal for outstanding contributions to mammalian research by the American Society of Mammalogists and in 2007 he was awarded the equivalent medal of Britainís Mammal Society and in 2010 the Zoological Society of Londonís Silver Medal. In 2008, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. In 2010 he was appointed Commander of the British Empire for services to Natural Science.


He is also Senior Research Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall, a Board Member of the World Wildlife Fund.

David was a Council Member for English Nature from 2003-2006, before taking up the appointment of Board Member for Natural England.


Nigel Reader CBE


Mr Nigel Reader CBE

Appointed: 1 June 2011 - Until: 31 May 2014


Responsibilities include: Chair of Natural Englandís Audit and Risk Committee from 1 October 2011.

Nigel is a member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and is a Chartered Global Management Accountant and has held a number of senior financial positions, including as Director of Finance for the National Rivers Authority and the Environment Agency. He has been a member of HM Treasuryís Financial Reporting and Advisory Board and a member of the Prince of Walesí Accounting for Sustainability Advisory Group.


He served as a member of the board of trustees of the international development charity WaterAid from 1999 until 2011 and is a consultant for them (occasional). 


He is currently a board member for both the Marine Management Organisation and Natural Resources Wales and also chairs their Audit & Risk Committees.


Andy Wilson


Mr Andy Wilson

Appointed: 1 January 2009 - Until: 31 December 2014


Responsibilities include:  Member of Audit and Risk Committee from 1 October 2011; and climate change mitigation (renewable forms of energy).


Andy Wilson has been Chief Executive of the North York Moors National Park Authority since March 2000 during which time the Authority has won a series of awards for customer service, training and work on climate change. Prior to that, he worked for seven years at the Northumberland National Park. Earlier in his career he worked for the Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), where he produced a series of influential reports on farming and the environment. He has numerous relations who farm in the Yorkshire Dales


Andy is a member of the RSPB, and was a member of the Yorkshire and Humber Assembly Sustainable Development Board until April 2009.






Andy Hopkin, Browne Jacobson LLP, solicitors


Andrew (Andy) Hopkin, Browne Jacobson LLP, solicitors




Action required
This is a categorisation of the action that is required to bring the SSSI unit into favourable condition. There are three options: Natural England funding; Natural England negotiation/enforcement; and other party action. Any combination of these actions can be selected for one unit.
Adverse condition
If a SSSI unit is currently assessed as being in unfavourable no change, unfavourable declining, part destroyed or destroyed condition, it is described as being in adverse condition and is not meeting the PSA target.
The citation details the 'features of interest' for which a SSSI has been notified. Each citation shows details of the SSSI location, size and the date of notification. It also describes the general reasons for notification and the habitats, plants and animals that are found at the site.
The condition of the SSSI land in England is assessed by Natural England, using categories agreed across England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland through the Joint Nature Conservation Committee. There are six reportable condition categories: favourable; unfavourable recovering; unfavourable no change; unfavourable declining; part destroyed and destroyed.
Condition assessment comments
The condition assessment comments provide more detailed information about the condition assessment. Comments will not be present for every condition assessment.
Date compiled
The date the information was extracted from the Natural England Site Information System (ENSIS).
Destroyed means that lasting damage has occurred to all the special conservation interest of the SSSI unit such that it has been irretrievably lost. This land will never recover.
Natural England funding
Natural England funding may be required for the unit to reach favourable condition, eg a Wildlife Enhancement Scheme agreement is required.
Natural England negotiation/enforcement
Negotiation and/or enforcement by Natural England is required for the unit to reach favourable condition.
Favourable condition means that the SSSI land is being adequately conserved and is meeting its 'conservation objectives', however, there is scope for the enhancement of these sites.
Latest assessment date
The date when the latest condition assessment was carried out.
Main habitat
The broadest classification of the feature on the unit selected from a list of habitats based on the BAP Broad Habitat classification.
Meeting the PSA target
If a SSSI unit is currently assessed as being in favourable or unfavourable recovering condition, it is described as 'meeting the PSA target'.
Notification date
The date the SSSI was notified to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs by Natural England. If the SSSI notification has been amended, this will be the date of the last revision.
Operations requiring Natural England's consent (formerly known as operations likely to damage the special interest)
Before any of these operations are undertaken the owner or occupier must consult Natural England and may require our consent.

It is usually possible to carry out many of these operations in certain ways or at specific times of year, or on certain parts of the SSSI, without damaging the features of interest. The Natural England Conservation Officer for the SSSI can provide advice and, where appropriate, issue a consent.

In certain circumstances it will not be possible to consent to these operations, because they would damage the features of interest. Where possible the Conservation Officer will suggest alternatives which would enable a consent to be issued. To proceed without Natural England's consent may constitute an offence. If consent is refused, or if conditions are attached to it which are unacceptable to the owner or occupier, they may appeal to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Other party action
Action by a public or statutory body other than Natural England is required for the SSSI unit to reach favourable condition.
Part destroyed
Part destroyed means that lasting damage has occurred to part of the special conservation interest of a SSSI unit such that it has been irretrievably lost and will never recover. Conservation work may be needed on the residual interest of the land.
PSA target
The Government's Public Service Agreement (PSA) target to have 95% of the SSSI area in favourable or recovering condition by 2010.
Reason for adverse condition
The reason why the unit it is in adverse condition (ie unfavourable no change, unfavourable declining, part destroyed or destroyed). The reason is selected from a defined list.
Source (reason for adverse condition)
Whether the cause of the adverse condition is within the SSSI (on site) or outside the SSSI (off site).
SSSI unit
SSSI units are divisions of SSSIs used to record management and condition details. Units are the smallest areas for which Natural Englands gives a condition assessment. The size of units varies greatly depending on the types of management and the conservation interest. There are around 22,000 SSSI units.
SSSI unit area
The area of each SSSI unit in hectares calculated from digitised unit boundaries.
Staff member responsible
The Area Team staff member who is the main contact for the SSSI.
Unfavourable declining
This means that the special interest of the SSSI unit is not being conserved and will not reach favourable condition unless there are changes to site management or external pressures. The site condition is becoming progressively worse.
Unfavourable no change
This means the special interest of the SSSI unit is not being conserved and will not reach favourable condition unless there are changes to the site management or external pressures. The longer the SSSI unit remains in this poor condition, the more difficult it will be, in general, to achieve recovery.
Unfavourable recovering
Unfavourable recovering condition is often known simply as 'recovering'. SSSI units are not yet fully conserved but all the necessary management measures are in place. Provided that the recovery work is sustained, the SSSI will reach favourable condition in time.

In many cases, restoration takes time. Woodland that has been neglected for 50 years will take several years to bring back into a working coppice cycle. A drained peat bog might need 15-20 years to restore a reasonable coverage of sphagnum.
Views about Management (VAM)
The 'Views About Management' gives a straightforward account of the basic management that is needed to conserve and enhance the wildlife or geological features of the SSSI. By giving a clear and simple statement of management principles for conservation, these views will help to clarify and build upon the existing understanding between SSSI owners and occupiers and Natural England about the management of their SSSIs.

The views place no additional obligation on the owner or occupier of a SSSI nor do they replace any more detailed management advice which Natural England may have already given, such as advice in a Site Management Statement or a Management Agreement.

Under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, Natural England must notify the owners and occupiers of all SSSIs of its views about the management of the SSSIs. This programme must be completed by January 2006.









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