BASC is seeking advice about the possibility of a legal challenge to a decision by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to ban shooting on public land.

NRW’s board has voted to end the leasing of pheasant shooting on the Welsh government estate after an 11th-hour direction from Environment Minister Hannah Blythyn AM. 

Her intervention ran contrary to the evidence produced by a comprehensive review and public consultation into the future of shooting on Welsh public land. NRW’s board initially voted in support of the recommendations of that review – which included a continuation of pheasant shooting on land it owns.

BASC believes the manner in which the NRW board has u-turned is as a direct result of politically-motivated interference from the minister and is considering legal resolution.

The association is concerned that the actions of the Welsh government are in direct contravention of the principles of better regulation which govern public bodies and set an alarming precedent for the future of evidence-based consultation in Wales and the wider UK.

BASC is also keen to alert the entire shooting community to the result of the review, which adversely affects not just those who live in Wales but also those who travel into the country to shoot, beat and pick-up.

Steve Griffiths, BASC Wales director, said: “Hannah Blythyn has ridden roughshod over an evidence-based process, which is a serious problem for the people of Wales. The minister has been influenced by a very vocal minority. She has totally ignored evidence and fact and followed the animal rights extremists. Good money has been spent on an evidence-based review. What an absolute waste.

“A decision clearly taken against evidence to the contrary and costing public money should be challengeable in law. BASC intends to explore every avenue to seek redress, for the sake of shooting, the people of Wales and everybody who has any regard for the responsibility of government to do the work of its people in a proper and credible manner.

“We will also be working to mobilise and energise other relevant organisations and those who have an interest in shooting in Wales to ensure we all do whatever is in our power to challenge this decision.”

BASC chairman Peter Glenser QC said: “This isn’t actually an issue just about shooting, this is about a failure to have due regard for the consultation and evidence-gathering process and the implications for that stretch way beyond just shooting.

“The appalling manner in which this has been handled by the minister throws up a huge issue for the Welsh government if it wants the people of Wales, and further afield, to have confidence in its actions.”

Shooting is worth £75 million annually to the Welsh economy, it invests £7.4 million in the maintenance and enhancement of natural resources each year and supports the equivalent of 2,400 full-time jobs.

Garry Doolan

Garry Doolan is BASC’s deputy director of communications and public affairs. He has more than 20 years experience of journalism and the media. He joined the organisation in 2016 and is a keen shooter and beater, with his springer spaniel Quincy.

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