BASC’s chairman, Peter Glenser said that the major political issues of 2018 would rear their heads again this year: Natural Resources Wales’s decision to curtail shooting on its land, the vexed question of medical involvement in gun licensing, and the need to demonstrate high standards of shoot management and game meat sourcing.
He said: “The problem of medical involvement in firearms licensing must be resolved. We will have to deal with several government reviews – of Home Office guidance on licensing and of airguns. We expect further developments to limit the use of lead ammunition in Europe. All this will play out against the political uncertainties of Brexit.” But he was quick to point out that these problems are not unsurmountable. “The support of our members, many of them over many years, means that BASC has the critical mass to do the job,” Mr Glenser continued.
“BASC has set the standards in shooting ethics and conduct – but we count on our members to see that they’re observed on the ground. Your support has meant that we have the means to do the surveys and research which demonstrate the benefits of shooting.
“We are lucky enough to live in a country where it’s possible to shoot throughout the year. We can only maintain this by ensuring that BASC remains well-resourced to do the job and we couldn’t do that without our members and our support for each other and the sport.”
DEFRA secretary, Michael Gove, took a similar tone in his speech at the Oxford Farming Conference, underlining the challenges the British countryside could face after Brexit – particularly if no deal with the EU is reached – as well as emphasising the opportunities for reform. “Of course Brexit will mean change. But, critically, what it means most of all is that we can once more decide how we shape change and how we meet the challenges ahead,” he said.
The Countryside Alliance reacted warmly to his speech, with head of campaigns Liam Stokes saying there was “a lot to like” in its content. “It was good to hear Mr Gove use this speech to recognise the role upland farmers play in ‘maintaining some of our most iconic landscapes,’ and although we share his concerns about the impact a ‘no deal’ could have on these farmers and the communities they support, it was also refreshing to hear him acknowledge these risks so candidly,” he said.