BASC has told the BBC that Wales’ Environment Minister Hannah Blythyn AM was “fundamentally wrong” to impose a ban on shooting on public land.
Natural Resources Wales (NRW) voted last week to end the leasing of pheasant shooting on the Welsh government estate after an 11th-hour direction from the Environment Minister.
Her intervention ran contrary to the evidence produced by a comprehensive review and public consultation into the future of shooting on Welsh public land. NRW’s board initially voted in support of the recommendations of that review – which included a continuation of pheasant shooting on land it owns.
BASC believes the manner in which the NRW board has u-turned is as a direct result of politically-motivated interference from the minister and is considering legal resolution.
Ian Danby, BASC’s head of biodiversity, was interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today programme this morning.
He told presenter Charlotte Smith: “We are outraged. Because the Minister has taken the report from NRW into the future use of firearms on public land, a review which came out and said it should continue, and totally disregarded it.”
Mr Danby said NRW board members had their ‘hands tied’ by the minister, something that was ‘fundamentally wrong’.
He said: “If you were in that meeting, and I had a colleague Steve Griffiths in that meeting, you would hear that they basically said ‘we have been directly instructed by Welsh Government to do this’ and if you had been in the previous meetings you would have seen that their recommendations were that well-managed shooting abiding by codes of practice met their terms of sustainable maintenance, improvement and use of natural resources.
“That’s their business, they tested it, it had passed. They basically had their hands tied by the minister who said ‘you will do this’. It’s fundamentally wrong.”
He added: “If you read through their full review, what they presented earlier this year for consultation and their recommendations, which said shooting passes the test of being sustainable and can have benefits if it runs to good practice – which is what we promote, what people adhere to and what Welsh Government through NRW had put in place – then it has a benefit.”
“It is a principal point that Welsh Government are meant to have and govern us on trust, all of us, everybody who pays into the public purse, whatever their interest is. They are meant to be looking after us and they have clearly failed to do this.”
Shooting is worth £75 million annually to the Welsh economy, it invests £7.4 million in the maintenance and enhancement of natural resources each year and supports the equivalent of 2,400 full-time jobs.
Ian Danby’s interview can be heard here, just over six minutes in.