Yesterday at an oral hearing in Cardiff, the Honourable Mr Justice Andrew Baker refused permission for a judicial review of the decision by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) not to continue to allow pheasant shooting on the Welsh Government Woodland Estate.
The application by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), Countryside Alliance (CA) and National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO) was ruled out of time.
Despite the fact that the Welsh environment minister at the time, Hannah Blythyn, and Chair of NRW had publicly stated that the decision was taken on the 20 September 2018, the judge ruled that it had in fact been taken on the 12 July. This followed the minister’s letter of 9 July which asked NRW to take into consideration the Welsh Government’s policy of not supporting pheasant shooting. The judge ruled this letter carried sufficient authority, given the respective powers of the minister and NRW.
BASC, CA and NGO had sought permission to launch a judicial review when NRW’s board voted not to allow shooting in the light of the letter from Hannah Blythyn, reversing their earlier decision in favour of shooting following a review and public consultation.
A spokesperson for the organisations said: “Naturally, we are disappointed with the judge’s ruling. The three organisations believed we had a strong case to call for a judicial review and we felt it was important to stand together on behalf of shooting to make the legal challenge.
“The result is that NRW spent more than £48,000 of public money on a review of shooting on Welsh government land, but are unable to implement a key recommendation resulting from that review.
“It is worrying that any policy, however illogical or contrary to evidence, can be justified by claiming it is based on “public policy and ethical” considerations, without any need for evidence.
“The three organisations would like to thank the shooting community within Wales and further afield for their support. We may not have got the result we wanted but the legal challenge was the right thing to do, and we will all continue to fight for the rights of shooters and evidence-based public policy.”