Legal challenge over welsh shooting ban
Three of the UK’S leading rural groups have joined forces to legally challenge the recent ban on pheasant shooting on public land in Wales ( News, December 2018).
The Countryside Alliance, BASC and the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation sought legal advice when Natural Resources Wales (NRW) decided to reject all future pheasant shooting leases, seemingly at the behest of the environment minister for Wales, Hannah Blythyn AM.
Lawyers acting on behalf of the three organisations have now issued a letter before action to NRW and may seek a judicial review, which they will jointly fund.
Christopher Graffius, BASC’S executive director of communications and public affairs, said: “An evidence-gathering review and consultation process came out in favour of shooting, yet NRW appeared to change its position after later interjection by the minister.
“It is a sign of the strength of feeling on this issue that the three rural organisations have united in their commitment to holding NRW and Ms Blythyn to account on behalf of shooting and on behalf of those who are rightly appalled that a public body can apparently ignore sound evidence in such a manner.”
Tim Bonner, Countryside Alliance chief executive, added: “It is important that policy is evidence-based. There is no evidence which justifies the decision to end pheasant shooting on NRW land, as NRW itself recognises.
“Indeed the evidence points clearly to the benefits of shooting to Welsh communities, the rural economy and in meeting NRW’S statutory obligations. The decision by NRW appears perverse and damaging, and this situation cannot be allowed to go unchallenged.”
Liam Bell, chairman of the NGO, said: “The NGO felt it essential to challenge the decision of NRW, not just on behalf of our members in Wales but also because of the serious precedent that it could set for other decision-making by the authorities.”
In November, Ms Blythyn was criticised for cancelling a meeting with BASC and the Alliance to discuss the ban, with the latter claiming that she appears to want “nothing to do with the consequences” of her decision.