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Defra propose gamebird releasing licence around protected sites


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Shooting organisations have responded with scepticism to Defra’s proposal to implement a licensing system for gamebird release in and around European protected sites, even after Wild Justice have indicated their intention to withdraw their judicial review.

With no prior consultation with BASC, Countryside Alliance, National Gamekeepers Organisation or the Game Farmers’ Association – who were all interested parties in the case – Defra has announced its intention to introduce an interim licensing system. The system will encompass the release of pheasant and red-legged partridge in and within 500 metres of Special Protection Areas (SPAs) and Special Areas of Conservation (SACs). Wild Justice had originally demanded a 5 km buffer zone.

Defra has not yet provided details of their proposal although a consultation on the licensing conditions is expected imminently.

The four shooting organisations believe a licensing system is not justified by the scientific evidence, even on an interim basis, that it is a misuse of the precautionary principle and may be unlawful. They are also concerned that it is open to further attack from anti-shooting organisations. They have demanded the following:

  • The shooting organisations must be fully involved with the consultation.
  • Defra, rather than Natural England, should implement any new licence.
  • The legislation for any interim licensing system should have the termination date clearly specified.
  • The conditions on any licence should be the GWCT’s rules for releasing, which are already the basis of self-regulation in game shooting.
  • Any licensing system must be in place by 1 February 2021 to allow shoots to plan for the season. If this is not possible the system should be delayed until 2022.

A spokesperson for the four organisations said: “We are supportive and fully committed to self-regulation and the principles of gamebird management in the interest of sustainable shooting. Defra’s proposed red tape under the precautionary principle will do little but threaten rural jobs, conservation efforts and a host of social benefits that shooting provides.

“Natural England’s wildlife licensing system has been proven unsuccessful as a light touch regulatory power and we remain unconvinced that Defra’s proposal for European designated sites will be fit for purpose.

“The proposal is better than Wild Justice’s time wasting demands that all releasing should be made illegal within 5km of designated sites but it is not justified by the scientific evidence, which is that the negative effects of gamebird releasing are highly localised and need to be weighed against the strong evidence of landscape scale benefits from the woodland management associated with shooting. If Defra is to secure cooperation from the shooting community, it must do better. At the moment, there is a great deal of scepticism that a unknown licensing system run by an underfunded public body can fix something that is not known to be ecologically damaging.”

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Shooting and Conservation, chaired by Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP, has already held a meeting with the Secretary of State for Defra, George Eustice MP, where they expressed their concerns. In a follow up letter, the MPs called on Defra to work closely with the shooting organisations.

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown said: “Many parliamentarians are concerned to ensure that shooting is not damaged by whatever Defra does. We will be fighting for a sensible evidence-based and proportionate outcome.”

For more info visit:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/defra-concludes-its-review-into-releasing-gamebirds-on-and-around-protected-sites

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I subscribe to Wild Justice email updates to see what they’re up to. They are definitely seeing this as a win.

A big concern to me is how they consider pheasants as am invasive non indigenous harmful species and lump them with such problematic species as grey squirrels, crayfish etc

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There are only 275 SPA’s and 656 SAC’s in the UK - many are coastal or off shore sites, in fact quite a lot of them. While I share the disappointment that this hasn’t been kicked in to the long grass, including the protagonists responsible, I honestly don’t think this is a significant blow. It’s not rocket science to plan releases of poults 500m from one of these sites. That’s only approximately a field away. Chin up and happy hunting everyone!

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W.J will always big this up as a huge victory.Yes they have had a small victory but reading DEFRA's response there is much work to be done.Their followers are all singing the praises of the mighty three.Shoots that are releasing as per good practice have little to fear.Do not let these bullies get the better of us.I for one will not be defeated by them or the kind of people that are taken in by their bile.

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32 minutes ago, Scully said:

‘....they have demanded’. 😂

The fact ‘they’ weren’t even consulted is indicative of the depth in which ‘they‘ are regarded. 

I'm sure that another...what's it cost now...£3,000 on a driven day at Catton Hall for those same MPs that went last year, and the year before, and the year before, etc., etc., etc....will sort it all out.

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10 hours ago, Conor O'Gorman said:

The four shooting organisations believe a licensing system is not justified by the scientific evidence, even on an interim basis, that it is a misuse of the precautionary principle and may be unlawful

Hi Conor,

 

I appreciate that you may be unable to say anything, however, on the off chance that you can - how strongly do the shooting orginisations feel that this is a breach of the precautionary principle?

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10 hours ago, Fellside said:

There are only 275 SPA’s and 656 SAC’s in the UK - many are coastal or off shore sites, in fact quite a lot of them. While I share the disappointment that this hasn’t been kicked in to the long grass, including the protagonists responsible, I honestly don’t think this is a significant blow. It’s not rocket science to plan releases of poults 500m from one of these sites. That’s only approximately a field away. Chin up and happy hunting everyone!

Not read all this or have the knowledge to understand it all but mark Avery is claiming this is a significant win, based on posting this on his blog, lots of comments on their.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/931396/defra-witness-statement-gamebird-release-exhibit3.pdf

 

 

 

 

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Congratulations to our shooting organisations, years spent taking your members money and navel gazing, whilst the extremists put people into positions of influence in the media, defra, environmental groups, Natural England, the National Trust and three major parties. Pinning your hopes on a handful of tories and endlessly entertaining them has paid dividends, clearly. 

 

You really do need a different plan. May I suggest contacting Leigh Day to see if they can offer you any legal assistance (they're clearly much better at this)?

 

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Much of my (small) area of land (which is part of a local shoot) is within 500m of the boundaries of SACs.  I need to examine real maps (digital maps with their 'zoom capability' are near impossible to get accurate distances), but this will certainly affect our small shoot to the extent of needing license to continue to release where we currently release pheasants.

It seems that for next year a license will be needed.

Unfortunately it is not clear what is needed for a license to be granted.  We're not a large shoot, and release relatively few birds.  Since this seems to be applying for the 2021/2 season - we need to know now, not at some unknown point in the future what the rules will be as it will affect decisions that will need to be made in the next two or three months.

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32 minutes ago, mick miller said:

I'll tell you now, if your shoot requires a licence from defra, you won't get one.

I think that if a shoot has a negative impact on surrounding ground there will not be a problem,huge amounts of bird release is the problem when many many thousands of birds are released within a small area.If shoots abided by the guide to good shooting there will not be a problem. Wild justice and the horrible three are treating this as a huge victory but the have achieved very little other than causing another level of bureaucracy. 

I know there are many people on here that cannot see any good being done by the organisations,but without them we will be unable to fight our corner.We need to talk as one and defeat these bullies.

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There’s a lot of doom and gloom with the usual predictable BASC bashing here. 
 

Of course Avery et al will claim a victory - that’s just how it works. However, they never got their 5km exclusion zone...... did they. When the licences come on stream  (which they will), then if a local syndicate is releasing small numbers anyway, they should be compliant by default, and therefore not be impacted.
 

There is another potential positive - and that’s the Brexit dimension. Who knows what value the EU directives may have post 1st Jan? How much longevity will the ‘awkward ones’ have? 

I think it’s also important to recognise that this scenario didn’t develop as a result of any BASC or other shooting org’s non action. It resulted from ‘The Feckless NE (TFNE)’, as I have named them, simply not doing their duty re surveys. I have had a lot of dealings with them - and believe me the above title  is entirely accurate. 

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3 minutes ago, Fellside said:

Sorry for repeating similar points to Greylag. Greylag’s post popped in just before I sent mine. 

I do agree that this is more about the big (BIG!!) shoots. I don’t think the average syndicate has much to worry about.  

You may be right, but since that have not yet said under what conditions they will grant a license, no one knows.  We only release a very low hundreds - and over several pens

 

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2 minutes ago, Fellside said:

to be quite workable as per the General Licence sort out

The land concerned has been in my family since 1948 ........... and the almost all of the adjoining land has also been in the same (family) ownership for a similar time.  Birds have been released for maybe 50 or 60 years now in most years.  The reason there was something there worth preserving is due to how the families and shoot users have treated and used the land.  It was made 'special' (initially SSSI) long after the owners first had it at the stroke of a civil servant's pen - no consultation.  Since then there has been an increasing burden of bureaucracy to 'preserve' a habitat that was there because of the way it was already run.  Now another need for a license to do what we are already doing has come along - and again with no consultation to the owners or occupiers.

More licenses will simply provide more jobs for administrators, and more costs for the applicants and the taxpayer ........ and achieve nothing.

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2 hours ago, mick miller said:

Congratulations to our shooting organisations, years spent taking your members money and navel gazing, whilst the extremists put people into positions of influence in the media, defra, environmental groups, Natural England, the National Trust and three major parties. Pinning your hopes on a handful of tories and endlessly entertaining them has paid dividends, clearly. 

 

You really do need a different plan. May I suggest contacting Leigh Day to see if they can offer you any legal assistance (they're clearly much better at this)?

 

save your breath game shooting won’t admit they have been mugged of until they are carrying the coffin 

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