I hope many of you have seen the interview with our new Chairman, Nick Herbert, which appeared in the Telegraph last Saturday. The Alliance board was unanimous in its belief that Nick was an outstanding candidate and very grateful when he agreed to take on the role.
In some ways the appointment signals continuity as Nick worked for one of the Alliance’s predecessor organisations, the British Field Sports Society, and was one of those who initiated the discussion about a broad based rural campaigning organisation, which was the catalyst for the creation of the Countryside Alliance.
None of us, however, expect that our new Chairman will not challenge us and all those activities we represent. Nick’s career has been marked by brave, principled and progressive campaigning both inside and outside Government. From his international campaigning on LGBT rights and TB to his approach to criminal justice and policing policy both as a Minister and backbencher Nick has always asked the hard questions whilst being resolute in his beliefs.
Frankly, though, you are better hearing direct from the Chairman so here are a selection of quotes from that Telegraph interview:
“Politicians do need to stand up for the countryside, for the rural way of life, for our traditions in the countryside.
"It's important that we collectively recognise the value of country sports in conservation, the huge investment that we're making in conservation ... the historic role we've played in shaping the countryside."
"What we want is where policy is shaped, we want it to be based on sound evidence, principle, science, not an extremist agenda."
"I was brought up in the countryside, I am a country boy. I used to hunt and I feel very strongly about the importance of country sports, in protecting, preserving conserving the British countryside, and as being part of our way of life. And I think it's important that they are allowed to continue to flourish.
"Politicians are right to worry about conservation, worry about the environment, conform with measures which are going to enhance it, but in attacking country sports they are on completely the wrong agenda.
"And I think it will come back if they, if they get into bed with these extremist movements, it will come back to bite them and very badly."