Nofence Grazing

The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust uses a method of keeping cattle in a location without fencing them in. I asked what no fence grazing is and got this reply. Before I start, I want to say that I am very aware that criticism is easy and it may be that the experience of herds with nofence is entirely positive. But I worry that it is otherwise.

The explanation of nofence is on the website at nofence. A cow is pictured with a collar with a box hanging from its neck.

Nofence trains the animals to turn around on audio. When the animal crosses the Nofence boundary, the collar starts playing an audio warning. The audio warning is a scale of tones, which starts at a low pitch and rises gradually as the animal moves through the boundary zone. If the whole scale has been played, a mild, but effective electric pulse will be given.

So there is it – a shock is delivered to an animal if it ignores the boundary. I prefer the idea of a fence, and I wonder what cows prefer. A fence you can see. It requires no translation from rising tones to a shock that comes from around its neck. How is it to make sense of anything other than that a rising tone spells an unpleasant experience?

One of the advantages touted by the system is that the boundaries can be moved easily. And if they are then a cow cannot reliably relate the rising tone to specific landmarks or its position in the landscape. Imagine being in a field and someone switches the no-go zone. I don’t know.

Kathryn Stone Attacked Again

Kathryn Stone is the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards of the House of Commons.

In November of last year I wrote about The Commons Select Committee On Standards and Owen Paterson’s lobbying that resulted in him resigning as an MP. Before that happened, the then Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng told Sky News that he believed she should review her position after her suspension of Owen Paterson was blocked by Parliament.

As I said then, Kwasi Kwarteng was wrong. He was wrong on facts because Kathryn Stone didn’t suspend Owen Patterson. It wasn’t ‘her’ suspension at all. She reported to the Committee and they suspended him.

So now today we have a new matter, and you would have thought that having had their noses bloodied once, the Conservatives would have learned to back off from Kathryn Stone. But no, now we have the Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen. He was suspended for five days for serially breaching the lobbying rules. He appealed and failed to convince the The Independent Expert Panel to overturn the suspension.

According to the IEP report, in his appeal Bridgen criticised standards commissioner Kathryn Stone’s investigation as flawed for multiple reasons. Plainly, neither she, nor the Standards Committee, nor the Independent Expert Panel agreed. So Kathryn Stone is in good company.

The Independent Expert Panel was chaired by a retired Lord Justice of Appeal, Sir Stephen Irwin. He didn’t mince words saying the Mr Brigden offered no evidence and simply said that the sanctions were excessive. Sr Stephen said “We disagree. Indeed, in our view the sanctions for breach of the rule against paid advocacy and for the email letter could properly and fairly have been more severe.”

Dear Shops: Close Your Doors

Why would I say this? That’s an easy one. Wasting energy is bad because: a) in the immediate future, energy suppliers may have trouble coping with demand this winter, and b) in the longer term, the more heat that escapes out of an open door, the more heat a shop has to use to keep the shop warm. And that’s a on a planet experiencing global warming.

It’s not just heating. Air conditioning in the summer months costs energy too.

Yes but do shops need to be told? Yes, because they do not close their doors. They do not close them because they are afraid shoppers will think they are closed, or because they imagine their competitors keep their doors open and so are afraid to lose customers to their competitors.

How Much Heat Is Lost – Is It Really A Problem? Cambridge University did a study in 2010, monitoring two shops. They found that:

The gathered energy consumption data indicate that an average savings of 30 % for Cambridge Toy Shop and 54 % for Ryman Stationery can be achieved during the heating season by keeping external doors closed.

That’s clear evidence that there’s a lot of waste.

What About A Voluntary Policy

Campaigns to get shopkeepers to sign up to keeping their doors closed have come and gone, and nothing has changed.

If you google for information about it, and you will find articles over the past fifteen years pointing out how much energy is lost by keeping shop doors open.

To those shops that have a closed door policy in their own shop — congratulations. But it is minimal — nearly all shopkeepers are just too worried about making the first move and fear losing out.

Speaking To Shopkeepers

My wife, Tamara, has been speaking to shopkeepers about the heat they let escape through the doors they leave open wide.

She has seen the attitude of shop managers change from the previous ‘who is this person coming to make my life difficult?’, to ‘I would, but…’

The climate risk is more well known now, and shopkeepers are more positive about closed doors. But they say that it is out of their hands, that head office insists they keep the doors open. Or they say it is a great idea but they are afraid their customers will think their shops are shut, so they can’t want to make the first move.

Now everyone knows there’s a global problem. But shopkeepers still worry about losing custom — and that is too strong a headwind for a voluntary ‘close the door’ idea to battle against.

Why Legislation

If there is an easier way, I would prefer it to legislation. But this problem is not going away and the amount of heat lost is costing everyone and warming up the planet faster for no good reason.

So instead of waiting for people to make the first move — just say that everyone has to keep their doors closed.

What Does The Petition Say

The petition says to the Government — please make legislation that everyone has to keep their doors closed, then no one should think they are at a disadvantage and everyone benefits.

If the petition gets enough signatures, government will debate this, and if they like it they will introduce legislation so all shops will have to keep their doors closed (that is, not fixed open) during shop opening hours.

The petition is here — follow the link