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FOLLOWING Natural England’s handling of the general licence chaos, BASC is urging decision-making authorities to use consultation processes more appropriately.

Natural England (NE) last week revoked three general licences with little notice and no consultation, causing chaos in England’s countryside at a crucial point in the farming and countryside calendar.

Natural England said its decision was in direct response to a legal challenge from Wild Justice.

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has already reassured BASC that they are not seeking to make immediate changes to its system for operating general licences for pest bird control.

While Natural England (NE) revoked three general licences without wider consultation with rural organisations, SNH reassured the rural community that any review of its systems would take into account the views of those affected.

The NE chaos follows a similar disregard for a fair consultation process by Natural Resources Wales, who decided to ban pheasant shooting on public land in Wales last year despite initially supporting the continuation of such shooting following a lengthy public consultation and review.

Steve Bloomfield, BASC’s executive director of shooting and operations, said: “BASC would urge decision makers to follow the lead of SNH by consulting with people whose livelihoods are directly affected by any future decisions.

“NE is in a mess with this because they didn’t consult and didn’t give proper notice to ourselves and other rural organisations.

“We realise this is a fast-moving situation but others need to ensure they don’t fall into the same trap as NE, which is learning the lesson the hard way to the cost of its reputation.”

BASC chairman Peter Glenser QC said: “This is a grave situation for Natural England. After the chaos they have caused, I would hope that others in their position would take note and take a more measured and sensible approach to dealing with similar issues.”

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