BASC settles GL43 legal challenge with government

hen pheasant

BASC has settled a claim for a judicial review with the government over Defra’s decision to alter the general licence (GL43) that allowed the release of gamebirds in certain areas of England.

The association was granted permission by the High Court to bring a judicial review of Defra’s decision in December last year. BASC’s Fighting Fund was used to support the challenge.

The claim has now been settled following a commitment by Defra to a programme of meetings and constructive dialogue to ensure the sector’s voice is heard in future.

In addition, Defra announced this week that a new general licence will be issued to allow the release of gamebirds on the vast majority of Special Protection Areas without any delayed release dates.

Caroline Bedell, BASC’s executive director of conservation, said: “Defra made its initial decision at the eleventh hour without warning or consulting with the sector because of a perceived risk of transmission of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) from gamebirds to wild birds – a decision which plunged the sector in England into turmoil and threatened the very existence of a number of shoots and the livelihoods of the gamekeepers affected.

“While the parties have not been able to agree if Defra had a legal obligation to consult the sector, the formalisation of our increased engagement and involvement with Defra going forward should help ensure the GL43 debacle is not repeated.

“Furthermore, we are pleased that the announcement of the new general licence fulfils our demand from the very outset of this legal challenge that a general licence to release gamebirds on all European protected sites must be reinstated.”

Find out more about the Fighting Fund and how you can support BASC here.