Three of the UK’s leading rural organisations are challenging the Natural Resources Wales (NRW) ban on pheasant shooting on public land.

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), The Countryside Alliance (CA) and the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO) sought legal advice when NRW’s board voted not to allow shooting after receiving a letter from Welsh environment minister Hannah Blythyn.

Lawyers acting on behalf of BASC, CA and NGO have now issued a letter before action to NRW and may seek a Judicial Review, which they will jointly fund.

Christopher Graffius, BASC’s executive director of communications and public affairs, said: “An evidence-gathering review and consultation process came out in favour of shooting, yet NRW appeared to change its position after later interjection by the minister.

“It is a sign of the strength of feeling in this issue that the three rural organisations have united in their commitment to holding NRW and Hannah Blythyn to account on behalf of shooting and on behalf of those who are rightly appalled that a public body can apparently ignore sound evidence in such a manner.”

Tim Bonner, the CA’s chief executive said: “It is important that policy is evidence based. There is no evidence which justifies the decision to end pheasant shooting on NRW land, as NRW itself recognises.

“Indeed the evidence points clearly to the benefits of shooting to Welsh communities, the rural economy and in meeting NRW’s statutory obligations.

The decision by NRW appears perverse and damaging, and this situation cannot be allowed to go unchallenged.”

Liam Bell, chairman of the NGO, said: “The NGO felt it essential to challenge the decision of NRW, not just in behalf of our members in Wales but also because of the serious precedent that it could be set for other decision-making by the authorities.”

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