The UK’s largest shooting organisation, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), has welcomed comments made by the minister for rural affairs, Dr Therese Coffey, during the driven grouse debate.

In the closing stages of the debate in Westminster Hall yesterday, Dr Coffey reaffirmed the government’s manifesto commitment that it has no intention to ban driven grouse shooting.

She further stated that there was no plan to introduce licensing of grouse moors.

She told the House of Commons debate: “As set out in our manifesto, the Government supports shooting for all the benefits it brings to individuals, the environment and the rural economy.”

Dr Coffey referred to the professionalism of keepers and said the importance of biodiversity, “without which the world would cease to exist”, should be recognised.

During the three-hour debate, she told MPs: “This is not a binary debate. The Government want to see a vibrant working countryside that is enhanced by a biodiverse environment. The uplands are a treasured asset prized by people for their tranquillity, quiet enjoyment, inspirational nature and recreation. They are also a vital source for goods and services, particularly food and drinking water, and make a major contribution to overall livestock production in the UK.

“Central to the provision of services and assets that the uplands provide is the active management of the land by farmers, landowners and land managers. Successful upland policy is dependent on upland communities, particularly farmers and land managers, whose rural businesses are fundamental to the rural economy and whose role in managing the land in the long term will ultimately determine the value of the environmental outcomes.

“I will finish by stating that government has no intention of banning driven grouse shooting, but we have every intention of bringing to justice those who break the law. We all agree that conserving the upland moorlands is in everyone’s best interests. We will help to ensure that a constructive dialogue continues so that grouse shooting is protected and these valuable moorlands thrive.”

BASC chairman Peter Glenser said: “We were delighted to hear Dr Coffey’s comments on grouse shooting and to hear her reaffirm the government’s manifesto commitment that it has no intention to ban driven grouse shooting. We look forward to continuing to work with government and other politicians to highlight the excellent work carried out on grouse moors and the subsequent benefits to the rural economy and conservation.”

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