Wooden dice with 2024 on them
Wooden dice with 2024 on them

The big issues ahead

Conor O’Gorman looks at some of the battles ahead for BASC and how we can all get more involved in the political fight to protect and promote shooting.

We are only a couple of weeks into 2024 and it’s already a busy time, with the Scottish Government having launched a consultation on a suite of proposals that, if implemented, will have a lasting impact on deer management in Scotland.

More on that later, but first let’s look at some of the other key issues ahead.

Lead ammunition

Following a call for evidence and two public consultations, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will soon complete its review of lead ammunition and make its recommendations to the Defra secretary of state for consideration.

Will the HSE now do the right thing and further revise its restriction proposals before finalising its recommendations? We hope so, but if it does not, we will keep fighting for a proportionate approach based on the evidenced risks, as outlined in our consultation response.

Firearms licensing

Last year saw the most important consultation on firearms ownership in 35 years which will have an impact for decades to come. What will the Home Office decide? We could have some big battles ahead.

Added to the mix is a consultation likely launching this year on increasing firearms licensing fees in England, Wales and Scotland.

Meanwhile, we will keep working with the police and Home Office to ensure a workable and efficient licensing system across all police forces.

Gamebird releasing

On the legal front, just before Christmas we were granted permission by the High Court to bring a judicial review of Defra’s decision to withdraw the general licence (GL43) which allowed the release of gamebirds in certain areas of England.

BASC’s Fighting Fund is being used to support the High Court challenge and, whether by the legal route or through ongoing continuing talks with Defra, we hope to secure a workable system for releasing birds under general licence.

Also in our sights for potential legal action is the licensing of gamebird releasing in Wales from 2025, should the Welsh Government take up Natural Resources Wales’ recommendations and proceed with draconian restrictions.

General licences for ‘pest birds’

The general licences for the control of certain species of birds have been renewed across the UK. Following the removal of magpies from the GL001, individuals will now have to apply to NRW for a specific licence to control them in Wales.

In Northern Ireland we continue to push for the general licences to be amended to permit their use on a Sunday. In 2022 the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs asked for views on changes to the NI general licences, and removing historic Sunday restrictions was a key recommendation submitted by BASC. The current interim NI general licences expire on 29 February.

Quarry bird lists

This year will likely see some government reviews of bird quarry lists and in advance of this, BASC has created a ‘sustainable shooting framework’. The framework provides a structured process for us to make shooting and management recommendations for quarry bird species in a consistent, evidence-based manner. 

We will continue to argue for self-regulation and the actions required to justify that for each species.


A public consultation on major changes to laws around deer management in Scotland titledManaging deer for climate and nature, closes on 29 March.

The proposals are numerous and include close seasons, use of firearms, a competence register, sale of venison, deer control orders, management of farmed deer and the capture of live deer. We will soon publish more information and advice on how to respond.


Also in Scotland, major changes are afoot for the future management of our uplands, with grouse moors a particular target for restrictions.

The vehicle for this is the infamous Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill and BASC continues to lead the fight in the corridors of Holyrood to ensure that we get the best outcome for land managers and the shooting and conservation sector.

PCC elections

The 2024 Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections in England and Wales will take place on 2 May, the same day as local elections in many areas.

BASC will contact all candidates requesting for their commitment to budget and make resources available for all necessary improvements to their force’s firearms licensing work.

We will soon launch a digital campaign platform and will encourage everyone that shoots to get involved in this.

General election

polling station

On top of all that, we will almost certainly see a general election in 2024, and if not, one must take place by 28 January 2025 at the very latest. Proposals that could impact shooting directly or indirectly may find their way into party manifestos and these could then be acted on by the next government.

Our political team secured positive commitments on shooting from the main political parties during last autumn’s conference season. We will continue to brief MPs on shooting and conservation, which is especially important as general election manifestos are being drawn up.

As per the PCC elections, BASC will provide digital resources to help people find their MP candidates and contact them regarding their views on shooting.

Your support is key!

The support of the shooting community will be vital as we meet the challenges ahead and, if you are not already a BASC member, please consider joining us in our fight for sustainable shooting and conservation of the countryside.