OP - Conservative party conference (for web)The Conservative party has praised shooting and anglings’ contribution to rural economic growth and environmental improvement.

The comments were made by Owen Paterson MP, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, during the Conservative party conference in Manchester at the rural reception organised by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) and the Angling Trust.

Mr Paterson said: “Everything that BASC and the Angling Trust do is slap bang in the middle of the DEFRA brief to grow the rural economy and improve the environment.  We have a different view to the last Government, we have to manage the countryside and wildlife and we are not frightened about doing that.”

He also highlighted the benefits that shooting can bring to the countryside. He said: “Last week I visited the village of Helmsley which was an excellent example of a thriving community built around shooting. The high street was busy at 7am with 4x4s, people, the coffee shops were open and busy, pork pies were being sold and there were four hotels that had been done up and were full because of people going to this rural, remote part of the country to shoot.”

Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP praised the work of Mr Paterson, he said: “We have a real friend in Owen Paterson, he is robust on rural issues and I can’t remember another secretary of state that has been as strong as he is on difficult issues.” He also emphasised the Conservative party’s dedication to the countryside, he said: “My one message here at the Conservative conference is that I cannot think of another party that will look after rural dwellers and those that make a living out of the countryside better than we will.”

BASC chairman Martyn Howat thanked Mr Clifton-Brown for working tirelessly on behalf of shooting and stressed the value BASC’s members bring to the organisation and its work.

He said: “We have more than 130,000 members who come from different socio-economic backgrounds. They are our most useful resource, with knowledge second-to-none on conservation issues. BASC aims to work with all governments and political parties to promote shooting and conservation to the highest standards but it is important that government policy is evidence-based and for regulation to be implemented only as a final resort.”

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