Le­gal chal­lenge over welsh shoot­ing ban

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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.

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