Welsh setback for shooting

Shooting organisations have been dealt a blow in the battle to restore shooting on Welsh public land.

BASC, the NGO and the Countryside Alliance were trying to mount a judicial review against the ban – but a judge has refused permission.

Judge Andrew Baker ruled that the attempt was out of time, deciding that the decision to curtail shooting on National Resources Wales-controlled land was taken on 12 July following a letter on 9 July from Welsh environment minister Hannah Blythyn. In reality, the decision was not made public until 20 September.

This leaves little hope of the Welsh government changing its mind, and apparently spells an end to a saga that saw NRW discard the results of its own consultation, which said that commercial shoots should continue on its land, subject to a suite of regulations.

A spokesperson for the shooting groups said: “Naturally, we are disappointed with the judge’s ruling. The three organisations believed we had a strong case to call for a judicial review and we felt it was important to stand together on behalf of shooting to make the legal challenge.

“The result is that NRW spent more than £48,000 of public money on a review of shooting on Welsh government land, but are unable to implement a key recommendation resulting from that review.

“It is worrying that any policy, however illogical or contrary to evidence, can be justified by claiming it is based on ‘public policy and ethical’ considerations, without any need for evidence.”

In other news, Natural England is set to review the general licences for controlling pest bird species in England.

General licences allow the necessary control of specific species in order to prevent damage to crops or for other reasons such as conservation, disease prevention, and to protect public health and safety.

They are issued annually by Natural England and separately by the relevant authorities in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It is not necessary to apply for or to have a copy of the licences, but people who control these birds must abide by the relevant licence conditions.

BASC said it will co-operate with Natural England to ensure the outcomes of the review are positive for conservation.

BASC’s Glynn Evans said: “General licences are a valid and appropriate method of permitting wildlife management long recognised by government. We look forward to an opportunity to work with Natural England during the review to help ensure a common sense approach and a positive outcome for conservation and wildlife management.”

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