BASC to commence legal challenge against Defra

A grey partridge and the BASC Fighting Fund logo

BASC has announced today (7 June) a decision to prepare legal proceedings against Defra over its withdrawal of the general licence that allows the release of gamebirds in certain areas of England.

The UK’s largest shooting organisation has instructed lawyers to begin the process that will seek permission from the High Court to bring a Judicial Review of Defra’s decision to withdraw General Licence 43 (GL43).

BASC has previously branded as ‘chaotic’ the move by Defra to ban releasing of pheasants and partridges in and around Special Protected Areas (SPAs) and said its actions have threatened jobs and business at a critical point in the rural calendar.

BASC has written to ministers and other key political figures and urged Defra to immediately reinstate GL43 so that clarity and reassurance is given to shoot managers who need to release birds in the weeks ahead.

BASC’s ‘Fighting Fund’ will be used to financially support any High Court challenge to Defra’s behaviour.

BASC chief executive Ian Bell said: “BASC has been working for days behind the scenes to highlight the chaos that has been caused by Defra’s original decision to withdraw GL43 without any notice or consultation with the shooting community.

“We are clear that Defra has thrown shooting into turmoil at a critical time in the rural year and has threatened jobs and businesses. The key government department that is supposed to protect the best interests of rural Britain has shown a significant lack of understanding and empathy. That must not go without substantial challenge.

“BASC’s absolute priority is to seek the immediate reinstatement of a workable GL43 system that, as a minimum, allows shoot managers and those affected to get back on with their work and their lives.

“But we also want the High Court to make clear that the Defra decision was unlawful in so far that it was reached without clear evidence or due consultation with the shooting community.

“We believe the High Court review is necessary to ensure that Defra’s processes are changed for the future and proper engagement with the rural community takes place before any significant changes are introduced.”