The importance of shooting to the rural economy and in particular tourism has been highlighted by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Liz Truss MP. She was speaking at the rural reception hosted by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) and the Angling Trust at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham.
The Secretary of State said shooting is a “really important part of our tourism and rural economy” and reminded the audience at the rural reception that it is “worth £2 billion and 74,000 jobs to the UK economy”.
She told delegates: “I can assure you that a Conservative-majority Government will be fully supportive of shooting, of fishing, of angling – and we will make sure that any potential threats to those industries are very speedily rebutted.”
The Secretary of State talked about the famously high quality of shooting in her constituency of South West Norfolk and asked to be taken to visit a shoot over the next year.
She also praised the environmental contribution of shooting. She said: “As well as the economic contribution these sports make to our country, they are also very important for conservation purposes and improving the environment which is another one of my priorities as Secretary of State.”
Talking about her priorities, she said: “It’s about how we improve our native wildlife, how we improve our rivers, about how we clean up our beaches, it is about how we improve our quality of air. What I want to focus on is practical environmentalism.”
BASC chairman Alan Jarrett said shooting plays an important role in maintaining the value of the countryside. He also thanked the Secretary of State for her support and welcomed her assurances to prevent threats to shooting and fishing.
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for natural environment and science, Lord De Mauley, said shooting “ploughs a lot of money back into the rural economy and it also contributes hugely to biodiversity.”
“In providing winter food for game birds and indeed control of predators, we also help farmland birds and songbirds which people are hugely worried about,” he said.
Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP, chairman of the All Party Group on Shooting and Conservation, thanked the speakers and said he was “delighted by the commitment of the Minister on shooting”.