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RSPB's Jeff Knott displays 'breathtaking incompetence' in failure to meet Sizewell C deadline

The RSPB have an annual operating budget of close to £150m and an army of staff around the country. Yet they have embarrassingly failed to meet a well-publicised deadline to submit their own judicial review application over plans to develop Sizewell C nuclear power station in Suffolk.

This calamity falls at the feet of the RSPB’s Operations Director Jeff Knott, who has managed to combine breathtaking arrogance with unprecedented incompetence.

In a statement on their website, Jeff Knott said: “most unfortunately we have been informed that our paperwork was submitted a day late. With the challenging nature of the reduced time limit and having to do this over the summer holiday period, we got our timings wrong. We are obviously devastated, and we can only apologise to those that have supported us throughout the whole process.”

The period allowed for applicants to launch a judicial review was reduced from three months to six weeks back in 2013, so he is being disingenuous to suggest anything but RSPB incompetence can be blamed for this. His excuse of ‘reduced time period’ is nothing more than a pathetic attempt at what we might call ‘ass covering’.

The RSPB had been running a highly publicised campaign ‘Love Minsmere’ in an effort to avoid planning permission being granted for the development.

As they had been keen to tell people “Minsmere reserve is recognised as one of Europe’s most important areas for nature and biodiversity. Yet, the much loved reserve faces potentially significant harmful impact from EDF’s proposed new nuclear power station.”

The RSPB campaign told us that Minsmere Nature Reserve is one of Europe’s most important places for wildlife, home to over 6,000 different species.

Furthermore, on 19 May 2022, RSPB staff demonstrated outside the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in London, to protest against the decision to build the Sizewell C power station at the proposed site.

This failure to submit their report on time is not just an unprecedented failure of administration but a reflection of the complete arrogance that runs through the organisation. To blame ‘summer holiday’ and ‘the amount of work required’ for a failure, when you have campaigned for public support and charitable donations is extraordinary.

One local Suffolk resident, who had supported the RSPB's initial campaign, said: "This is beyond parody. It is beggars' belief how they could fail on something as basic as this, and then blame being on summer holiday. I am furious with them."

For Jeff Knott to suggest that ‘every hour’ was being used to prepare their judicial review is also bonkers. Over the last six weeks, when the judicial review should have been prepared, Jeff Knott has been busy across social media publicising his pleasure at witnessing a Jarvis Cocker concert; championing Chris Packham as his ‘spiritual leader’; promoting Ruth Tingay’s attacks against gamekeepers and sharing material calling for the licensing of grouse moors.

Perhaps if he had spent a little more time focused on the judicial review, rather than distractions that sow divisions within the conservation community, he may not have let down all those RSPB members who actually believed he might have taken something like the development of a nuclear power station in a nature reserve a little more seriously.


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