BASC highlights consultation concerns to Welsh Minister

pheasants flying

BASC’s legal team has written to Minister Julie James MS to seek clarification on issues related to the gamebird releasing consultation carried out by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) earlier this year.

BASC’s Act Now campaign helped to secure more than 42,000 responses to the consultation. NRW’s subsequent advice to the Welsh government – published in October 2023 – recommended that the release of pheasant and red-legged partridge should only be permitted under licence, starting from the 2025/26 season.

However, following the publication of the consultation report on 8 November, BASC believes Welsh Government has not appropriately discharged its statutory duty to consult and review in full responses to the consultation thereby failing to give “conscientious consideration to them.”

Included in BASC’s list of concerns is the fact that NRW has elected to ignore more than 93 per cent of the consultation responses.

The letter to Climate Minister James lists a number of points for clarification and seeks information about the handling of consultation responses by NRW and subsequent recommendations to government.

The letter says: “Please confirm that before moving to consider a decision, you will yourself consider and take into account all consultation responses (including those which NRW has declined to substantively consider)”.

It adds: “…..any failure to do so would amount to a breach of your statutory duty of consultation, and therefore render any decision unlawful.”

The letter also detail’s NRW’s failure to consider BASC’s own response to the consultation, which highlighted that the proposals were underpinned by potentially flawed evidence.

BASC’s executive director of conservation, Caroline Bedell, said: “We would like to know why NRW has decided to only consider such a small proportion of the consultation responses.

“We also want to know why BASC’s robust response has been dismissed altogether. It is our duty to members and the Welsh rural community to seek clarification on these matters, and, if necessary, take legal action against Welsh Government.”

The letter further states that BASC will commence legal proceedings should a decision on the proposals be taken “before the Minister has lawfully discharged her obligations to consult affected parties”.