After lobbying by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), the Forest Service in Northern Ireland has reduced its ambitions to gain sweeping powers over sporting rights, land entry and deer management. The Forest Service has now abandoned plans to obtain compulsory purchase of sporting rights under the proposed Forestry Bill which is before the Northern Ireland Assembly.

BASC Director for Northern Ireland, Roger Pollen, said: “Almost everything in the Forestry Bill has been developed by the Forest Service, for the benefit of itself as an organisation.  The key problem is that the Forest Service is both regulator and main operator of forest management in the province and needs checks and balances on its operations. Following pressure from BASC, they have given some ground and relinquished their bid for powers of compulsory purchase of sporting rights.” 

The Forest Service has also been seeking powers to go onto private land anywhere in Northern Ireland at any time of day or night to shoot deer with any calibre rifle and bill the landowner for doing so. BASC has twice given evidence to the Agriculture Committee and has lobbied against granting powers of compulsory access onto private land adjacent to forestry to shoot deer.

Roger Pollen said: “The committee has been supportive, sensible and measured; in stark contrast to the proposals that have been championed by the Forest Service and we hope that many of these unjustified measures will not be passed into law.”   ENDS

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