Despite the poor summer weather visitors and residents alike are often seen looking for seals or dolphins off St Mary’s island or birdwatching in Brierdene or Northumberland Park.
So I wasn’t surprised by a big summer campaign to make animal welfare a priority for the next Government. Strengthening animal welfare laws must be a priority. The context is daunting, from preventing sewage dumping in our rivers and coast to the threat by the Government to retreat from effective environmental policy.
They dragged their feet over the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill causing widespread public concern especially because there was ample legislative time in Parliament. Ministers claimed instead they would address animal issues individually but they have failed to do so. In reality it was to frustrate any attempt to improve the Hunting Act where stopping trail hunts from being a cover for illegal hunting is urgently needed.
Although the Government has seemingly abandoned plans to replace EU rules with individual UK measures now claiming they want to retain many of the existing safeguards, there is a fear that under this Government back tracking is inevitable. It’s also apparent with every new trade deal there’s a threat to undercut consumer protection, perhaps using the cost of living crisis as cover to do so.
Animal welfare is invariably one of the biggest issues in my postbag and always has been. Like environment policy generally, it’s not a middle class or urban concern, it’s a common concern. Even if the Government just recognises the electoral arithmetic that at least would be a start.