Thank you for contacting me about the protection of hen harriers.
Following concerns raised by constituents, I wrote to the Environment Minister with regard to this issue and her response dated October 2020 is below. In view of ongoing concerns about the strength of protections, I wrote to the Environment Minister again in January 2021 and the Secretary of State's response dated 9th February 2021 is also below and outlines the steps being taken by the Government to protect the hen harrier.
All wild birds are protected from illegal killing by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Raptor persecution remains a national wildlife crime priority, with funding to support the priority and Defra sits on the police-led Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group, which takes forward activities to raise awareness and facilitate intelligence and incident reporting, leading to increased prevention and enforcement activity. The group focuses on the golden eagle, goshawk, hen harrier, peregrine, red kite and white-tailed eagle.
I was pleased to read from the Secretary of State's letter that from the Hen Harrier Recovery Project which started in 2016, there were three successful nests. The numbers have steadily risen since, and last year there were 19 successful nests and 60 chicks fledged. The number of successful nests and birds fledged last year was the highest in 30 years.
This is encouraging news but there is still work to do. We are seeing a pleasing increased in the numbers of peregrine, red kite and buzzard, which have all increased and DEFRA must continue to ensure that the protection of the hen harrier remains a wildlife crime priority.
I was pleased that earlier this year, the Government decided to prevent the burning of heather and other vegetation on protected blanket bog, which are important habitats for the hen harrier - https://www.gov.uk/government/news/englands-national-rainforests-to-be-…
I will continue to monitor this issue and the progress being made.
Richard Fuller MP