A High Court challenge to gamebird releasing on and around protected sites has been withdrawn after Defra published the findings of its year-long review into releasing.

Wild Justice – run by Chris Packham and Mark Avery – instigated this Judicial Review into releasing and newspaper headlines over the weekend have widely proclaimed Defra’s response as a victory for their group.

BASC does not believe this to be the case. Nor do we believe the interim system of licensing proposed by Defra is proportionate or required.

Here are the key points:

  • BASC alongside the Countryside Alliance, National Gamekeepers’ Organisation and the Game Farmers’ Association were interested parties helping to challenge Wild Justice’s judicial review (JR) in the High Court.
  • Wild Justice has now withdrawn its JR – and this has been proclaimed in various quarters as a victory for them.
  • The Secretary of State for the Environment (George Eustice) has proposed a release and licensing system that BASC believes is neither proportionate nor required.
  • The Code of Good Shooting Practice and British Game Alliance’s Assurance Scheme Standards set a guideline for releasing birds which ensure the environment is not damaged.
  • The limits set under normal circumstances are 1,000 birds a hectare and 700 on sensitive sites.
  • Defra has said that this is the standard for any licensing system.
  • Almost all shoots currently release within those parameters. Those that do not, should.
  • Around 90 per cent of the land used for lowland game shooting remains unaffected by this decision.
  • In the very few cases where there is evidence that these standards are being breached on protected sites, Natural England (NE) has the power to act.
  • WJ asked for a buffer of 5km – but Defra has proposed only 500 meters around the protected sites.
  • WJ asked for releasing to be stopped – it won’t be.
  • WJ asked for restrictions on 40 per cent of the land area, but only 10 per cent has been proposed.
  • Pro-shooting parliamentarians and BASC question the need for a new licence and, if introduced, will be ensuring that Defra issues a workable, evidence-based licence that benefits shooting.
  • BASC will reserve its legal position should any future system not be workable, evidence-based and necessary.
  • It must be remembered that running a shoot within the guidelines delivers biodiversity net gain.

A number of FAQs have also been produced and are available to read here.

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