• Devon County Council’s letter to Mr Gove, on my motion over animal sentience

    27th April 2018 | News | Claire
  • After years of appalling environmental policies, such as on fracking, slashing renewable energy subsidies, while giving big tax breaks to fossil fuel industries, the disastrous and cripplingly expensive Hinkley C nuclear project, the weakened planning system, voting with pesticide companies on retaining the use of bee harming pesticides, warm words but little action over climate change (and a former environment secretary of state who was actually a climate change denier.. Yes, really!)

    There have been continued attempts to deregulate a raft of environmental protections, while cunningly pretending protections will remain … oh there is so much…

    Anyway, after years of this terrible environmental record, Michael Gove, curiously, as of late last year appears to have suddenly woken up.

    Coincidentally, his ‘awakening’ comes after a series of focus groups on why young people aren’t interested in voting Tory…

    Mr Gove has since made a commitment to ban plastic straws, he has agreed to ban SOME microbeads (note that the industry had already signed up to this!) and Theresa May has published a 25 year plan on improving environmental protections.

    Sadly, a pledge in the Conservative manifesto of 2010, to ban wild animals in circuses remains unmet.

    The Conservatives’ record on environmentalism has caused some of us to be a teensy bit cynical when it comes to believing in action, beyond a bit of convenient greenwashing.

    The 25 year plan is of course welcome, however it concerns matters of great urgency that should be battened down in a far shorter timeframe.

    The background to my motion is that in November MPs voted on scrapping a vital EU law on animal sentience. This essential EU law currently enshrines animal sentience in legislation (meaning that the state was responsible for it).

    But in November, Mr Gove and his Conservative colleagues voted to throw it out. There then followed a tide of massive total outrage, understandably from members of the public, after which Gove claimed “fake news” and said the media had got it all wrong, that the Tories were a group of animal lovers and they would always be protected….

    Unfortunately for the Tories, the British Veterinary Association knew the real story and cut through the misleading spin to put the record straight. The government had just voted down a vital law that means the state has a responsibility for animal welfare.

    The strongest British law simply stated that the animal keeper had a responsibility for animal welfare.

    Gove backpeddled fast. “We’ll sort it out and make it right!” He claimed…. totally refusing to sign up to any timeframe on doing so…

    To cut a long story short, this prompted me to submit a motion to Devon County Council, urging the Secretary of State to commit to an appropriate timeframe for introducing the same protections for UK animals as currently exists in EU legislation.

    It was supported unanimously (bar one) and this is the letter that was sent…. I have asked for a copy of the response when it arrives.