Shoot­ing un­der fire

In a shock­ing an­nounce­ment, the Welsh govern­ment has turned its back on com­mer­cial game shoot­ing, re­ports He­lena Ven­ables, a move that will surely alien­ate vot­ers in ru­ral ar­eas

Sporting Shooter - - Shooting In Wales -

In an in­com­pre­hen­si­ble move, the Welsh Labour govern­ment an­nounced in July that it does not sup­port com­mer­cial shoot­ing. The ex­tra­or­di­nary state­ment by Han­nah Blythyn, the Welsh en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter, was made in a letter to Nat­u­ral Re­sources Wales (NRW) in re­sponse to the lat­ter’s de­ci­sion to al­low shoot­ing to con­tinue to take place on NRW land for pest con­trol, pheas­ant and wild­fowl­ing. This de­ci­sion fol­lows a com­pre­hen­sive public con­sul­ta­tion and re­view.

In the letter, Ms Blythyn who, along with her col­leagues, clearly has no con­cept of the eco­nomic and con­ser­va­tion ben­e­fits shoot­ing brings to Wales, states that the Welsh govern­ment “does not sup­port com­mer­cial pheas­ant shoot­ing or the breed­ing of game birds,” cit­ing “eth­i­cal issues”.

Such is the ar­ro­gance of Welsh Labour that they ac­tu­ally asked NRW to ig­nore the find­ings of the con­sul­ta­tion and re­view. Yes, re­ally. How­ever, in a meet­ing on 13 July, the NRW board de­cided to ac­cept the rec­om­men­da­tions of the re­view re­gard­less of Ms Blythyn’s letter, which was not based on any science, ev­i­dence, logic or rea­son.

Over 250 pieces of qual­i­fy­ing ev­i­dence were re­ceived and re­viewed dur­ing the con­sul­ta­tion and re­view, re­sult­ing in the pri­mary rec­om­men­da­tion that shoot­ing could sus­tain­ably con­tinue on NRW land. The re­view also proved that shoot­ing con­trib­utes to the de­liv­ery of Sus­tain­able Man­age­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources (SMNR) and the de­liv­ery of the well­be­ing goals of the Fu­ture Gen­er­a­tions Wales Act, both of which NRW are tasked to work to­wards.

Com­ment­ing on the Welsh Labour state­ment, Rachel Evans, Coun­try­side Al­liance’s direc­tor for Wales, said: “We are bit­terly dis­ap­pointed that the min­is­ter has been so poorly ad­vised. We have met with the min­is­ter and we are con­fi­dent that this letter does not re­flect her true views on this is­sue. We have re­quested an ur­gent meet­ing to dis­cuss why this letter was writ­ten and who ad­vised her to do so, as she is in grave danger of alien­at­ing huge swathes of ru­ral Wales.”

Ms Evans added: “Our thanks go to the NRW board, who have stood up for the in­tegrity of their re­view. We have se­ri­ous con­cerns about the base­less rec­om­men­da­tions re­lat­ing to rear­ing and re­leas­ing of game birds and we will be chal­leng­ing these po­si­tions as we move for­ward. We can all agree that NRW’s cred­i­bil­ity sim­ply would not re­cover if the find­ings of a re­view were to be en­tirely thrown out on the whim of an opin­ion handed to them by a min­is­ter. The state­ment that the Welsh govern­ment does not sup­port com­mer­cial pheas­ant shoot­ing will send a chill down the spine of the hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple who shoot or whose liveli­hoods de­pend on game shoot­ing, not just in Wales, but across the UK, where peo­ple will be won­der­ing if this is now Labour party pol­icy. There are very se­ri­ous ques­tions to ask, and the CA will be ask­ing them.”

In my view, the com­ments are a trav­esty and show a com­plete dis­re­gard for the Welsh coun­try­side and the peo­ple who live in it, as well as for Welsh bio­di­ver­sity and con­ser­va­tion.

In­ter­est­ingly, in March this year, the Coun­try­side Al­liance sent a clear warn­ing to the Labour party that en­gag­ing with an an­i­mal rights agenda would only fur­ther alien­ate vot­ers in ru­ral con­stituen­cies that it must win to form a West­min­ster govern­ment in the fu­ture.

The warn­ing, in Labour Coun­try, a re­port sup­ported by the Coun­try­side Al­liance and in­de­pen­dently re­searched and writ­ten by the Fabian So­ci­ety, a left-lean­ing think tank, states that Labour must re­con­nect with the pol­i­tics and cul­ture of the coun­try­side if it is to have any chance of win­ning the next gen­eral elec­tion.

Baroness Ann Mal­lalieu, Labour peer and pres­i­dent of the Coun­try­side Al­liance noted: “There is no doubt that there can be no fu­ture Labour govern­ment without im­proved sup­port in the coun­try­side, but this can only be achieved if the party gets se­ri­ous about mak­ing a cred­i­ble pol­icy of­fer to the coun­try­side.

“For too long, Labour have con­flated ru­ral issues with an­i­mal issues, to the detri­ment of Labour’s vote in the coun­try­side. This re­port lays out how Labour can cor­rect this trend and chal­lenge the Con­ser­va­tive party’s ru­ral dom­i­nance, by speak­ing to the gen­uine con­cerns of peo­ple in

Pheas­ant shoot­ing on NRW-man­aged land has come un­der fire

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