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Ruth Tingay kills vibe at Restore Nature Now with rambling hate speech against upland communities

If you had walked past DEFRA’s London office on Thursday, you would have seen the motley collection of nature enthusiasts that had gathered there to demonstrate as part of a ‘Restore Nature Now’ campaign.

Some were there because of their love of hedgehogs. Others were encouraging us to protect bees, and a couple wanted to save the panda. One sign read, “I just really like bugs”.

So when Ruth Tingay stepped up to deliver a speech on hen harrier persecution that recounted, in gory, graphic detail, her claims of the killing and mutilation of raptors on grouse moors, there was a bit of tonal shift.

The bee-lovers, butterfly counters, and wild swimming enthusiasts had not been expecting, nor did they presumably want to be listening to, this violent and inflammatory rhetoric – although those familiar with her blog will be unsurprised by her impromptu speech full of the usual bile.

What Tingay purposely chose not to mention, amidst her bromidic attacks on grouse moors and graphic descriptions of alleged raptor persecutions, was that hen harriers in the UK are now their highest levels for 200 years. Furthermore, there have been only two cases of persecution on hen harriers, according to the latest data released by Natural England.

This, surely, would be news the bird lovers at the protest could rejoice in, and would have been a welcome respite after hours of depressing talk of climate crisis, species extinction and river pollution. Tingay, however, chose to withhold this positive and hopeful statistic.

There was a second glaring omission from her speech. It was focused so predominantly on the alleged suffering of individual hen harriers that it completely ignored the wider environmental, social and economic benefits delivered by grouse moors to regional communities.

In the current cost of living crisis, it is wilfully irresponsible to advocate for the end of an industry that communities – particularly northern, rural communities – heavily rely on both socially and economically.

Tingay’s speech, therefore, manifestly ignored the human cost of her campaign against grouse moors. While she was delivering it, some people with painted faces and draped in blue fabric – presumably representing the ocean – were performing a strangle little dance. Three women wearing papier-mâché fish heads posed for photos.

It was somewhat unclear what the desired effect of all this was, and how Tingay’s claims – and omissions – slotted in. What was clear was that this strange little gathering reinforced the perception that these activists like Tingay are really quite peculiar and any policy maker who witnessed the scene would be highly unlikely to warm to their cause.


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