BASC has recommended that ‘animal sentience’ be dropped from the draft of the Animal Welfare Bill.

In its response to a public consultation and parliamentary inquiry on the proposed legislation, BASC says the welfare needs of animals are already covered by the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and inter-related advice, guidance and codes of practice.

Dr Conor O’Gorman, BASC’s policy development manager, said: “Animal rights extremists will hijack the proposed sentience clauses in this Bill to undermine not only sporting shooting, but also grind government to a halt by opening up every policy to judicial review.

“The animal sentience provisions could be either dropped or the duty enshrined in a statutory code of practice on animal welfare, which would include a statement on sentience. Breaches of the code could then be used in evidence in legal proceedings on a case-by-case basis.”

BASC has highlighted its concerns in a written submission to a public consultation being held by the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) and in evidence submitted to a government inquiry launched by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) committee.