Wildfowling Liaison Committee Minutes

BRITISH ASSOCIATION FOR SHOOTING AND CONSERVATION

Wildfowling Liaison Committee

Meeting held on Friday 8th February 2019

At BASC Head Quarters, Marford Mill Rossett, Wrexham LL12 0HL

Starting at 11.30 a.m.

Minutes

Attendance:      Alasdair Mitchell – Chairman of WLC – AM

                                James Green – BASC Head of Wildfowling/ Secretary – JG 

                                Jo Hughes – BASC Wildfowling Administrator/ Minute Secretary – JH

                                Shane Robinson – BASC Wildfowling Officer – SR      

                                Paul Williamson – BASC Head of Land Management – PW 

                                Heather Warrender – BASC Science Officer – HW

                                Conor Gorman – BASC Head of Policy and Campaigns – CG

                                Ian Danby – BASC Head of Biodiversity – ID

                                Ian Coghill – IC

                                Jon-Paul Humberstone – JPH

                                Mat Holloway – MH

                                Tom Adamson – TA

                                Grant Evans – GE

                                Brian Johnson – BJ

                                Mike Sherman – MS    

                                Glynn Cook – GC

                                Robin Marshall- Ball – RMB

                                Peter Catlin – PC

                                Robin Owen – RO

                                William Wykes – WW

                                Paul Culley – PCu

                                Peter Nichols – PN

                                Craig Jenkinson – CJ              

                                Graham Downing – GrD

                                Richard Playle – RP

                                George Downing – GD

 

  1. Apologies

Allen Musselwhite ( AM ) , Nick Millman  ( NM ) , Allan MacDonald ( AMcD )

No response: Roy Hodson

  1. Declaration of interests

The following members of the committee declared an interest in:

Agenda item 9Glynn Cook and Mike Sherman

AOB – Mike Sherman requested update regarding BASC part funded PhD

Biodegradable Wad – RP advised of new wads that break down in water over 24 hour by Eley which are unveiling next week at the National Shooting show.

  1. Minutes of the last meeting

The minutes of the 11th April 2018 were approved and signed as a true record.

AM Acknowledged John Dryden for his service to BASC and also the WLC in his role as the previous chairman.

  1. Matters arising

AP 1 and 2: CJ – stated there was new wording in Crown Foreshore leases. PW stated that leases are negotiated between landowner and club. That all leases are completed using a Crown Estate Lease Template. PW clarified that the wording has not changed since 2007 on the Crown Estate Lease Template. PW clarified that potential charges apply to non- affiliated wildfowling clubs only.

MS – suggested that wording be amended to clarify non- affiliated wildfowling clubs.

JG – advised that we cannot amend without agreement of the JTG, but would request this at the next JTG meeting Scheduled on the 21.02.2018

Action Point 1 – Request clarification on wording at the next JTG meeting Scheduled on the 21.02.2018

AP 3 and 4:  Agenda item 7. PN stated concern that WLC was not consulted regarding the NE partnership agreement. PW clarified that BASC Council did not seek advice from any of the BASC committees on this issue. AM confirmed that the BASC committee terms of reference will be discussed during agenda item 5.

AP 5:  AM/PW stated dealt with

AP 6:  PW confirmed that Matt Ellis completed

AP 7: Agenda item 12

AP 8: Agenda item 9

  1. Committee Terms of Reference

AM clarified The BASC Committee terms of reference are much the same for all BASC Committees. AM stated that as BASC has a policy on wildfowling (to promote and protect the sport) and as such any policy matters that involve wildfowling should be put to the consideration of the WLC as BASC’s sounding board and source of expertise in wildfowling.

Confidentiality – clarified that advice must not be disclosed outside of the WLC prior to BASC council decision making.

MH – asked for clarification regarding clause 2 of terms of reference. AM/IC clarified this. MS also clarified that this was in the terms of reference to ensure that our advice adheres to policy and if there are any legal implications.

Committee appointments will be made annually – explained that current timings are not currently inline due to departure of previous WLC chairman. Unhappiness expressed about the re-appointment process – in particular the content and tone of the letters sent in September 2018 requesting WLC Committee Members re-apply. AM explained that this appears to be the correct process and is the same with other BASC committees, although he noted the point about the tone. He had received one himself.

AM reminded WLC that its advice does not have to be accepted by BASC council.

Report regarding terms of reference consultation by Conor O’Gorman BASC Head of Policy and Campaigns.

AM suggested that if the WLC believe that it can function, perform and be more relevant then the WLC can make recommendations and suggestions about this to the BASC council. Raised RP’s suggestion about better communication between the WLC members and have the opportunity to voice concerns, raise issues and successes.

IC raised matter of all WLC members stepping down every year and suggested that a third steps down each year and rotates each year. Stated this was an opportunity for the WLC to clarify our objectives and purpose.

PC asked for clarification on the WLC strength. JG clarified, to make WLC more user friendly, to increase levels of communication and the speed at which we communicate to the wider membership, to increase the benefit of WLC and provide better advice on factors relating to the sport of wildfowling. 

MS – Doesn’t matter what we or any committee recommend if the WLC is not strong enough with their recommendations/suggestions.

The WLC expressed a need to be more proactive and actually provide advice and advanced warning rather than passiveness and reactionary after the fact.

CJ raised matter of NE and BASC partnership agreement, that the WLC was not given information pertaining to it. Stated that BASC council said they did not require WLC input, CJ said this was an example of how two-way traffic and discussion could have been used.

AM clarified that WLC will be more proactive and assertive in future. Proposed looking at discussion around amending terms of reference at next meeting. 

RP asked that BASC council have information and concerns available to them prior to the monthly meetings.

  1. Wildfowling Department Update

JG introduced SR and JH.

Clarified that Dennise Shepherd continues to support BASC Wildfowling Department with consents.

Report given by JG

Discussed encouraging involvement from the wildfowling community. Using social media, communication and WF fast tracks.

JG welcomed ideas from WLC regarding communication.

RP suggested the possibility of text messaging.

PN advised using wildfowling clubs social media groups.

IC suggested a system of communication that is uniquely suited to this group, such as an all WLC email group/communication. JG asked if WLC members had issue with this.

Action Point 2 – JG to consult GDPR manager and advise accordingly.

  1. Update on NE Consultation on Consenting Wildfowling

Report Given by JG

Ongoing concerns pertaining to the appeal and compensation process. BASC looking to have the appeal process reviewed.

JG advised 3 wildfowling clubs that are piloting the NE Long Term Management Plans.

No requirement for a maximum visit number. If we are able to achieve a positive outcome then this will lend a good template for future clubs considering LTMPs.

Working at a local and a national level, discussions at national level hinge on how we progress at a local level for the 2019/2020 season. Once the options have been explored then WLC will be in a position to be updated.

PC raised question regarding LTMP’s superseding long term consents. JG clarified that there is no requirement for you to hand in a LTMP for all areas of use by a club.

There are two options available to WF clubs requiring consent

  • LTMP under the NERC ACT
  • Long Term Consent under the Wildlife and Countryside Act

PC raised review periods by NE of LTMPs and queried their security.

JG clarified that LTMPs are negotiated between the wildfowling club and NE. That current consents can be revoked within 6 months under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

JG reiterated that BASC has no obligation to enforce a wildfowling club to sign up to LTMP process. That the decision is up to the club.

JG updated the WLC that work on consents due for the 2019/2020 season were well underway and work continued on JTG Management plan reviews.

MS – asked who was representing all organisations from the JNCC on the JTG. JG to find out.

Action Point 3

  1. Wildfowling Conference, New Format

Report Given by JG

Scottish Wildfowling Workshop/Conference on 16th March.

Southern Wildfowling Workshop/Conference on 23rd March.

Northern Event to be confirmed.

Wales to be confirmed.

Smaller events one year and a tradition national conference – alternating years.

Expressions of disappointment from PC, MH, GC with regard to this year’s arrangements and lack of consultation with WLC.

Conference is not the platform to give feedback over technical issues due to the annual timing. The WLC is the platform and forum for feedback and communication of the bigger issues on to our clubs.

MS highlighted that a number of younger wildfowlers feel intimidated by the technical aspects of the national conference, is happy to see a change of pace and is hopeful that the biannual events will encourage more wildfowlers to the events rather than just club officials, welcomed the instructiveness of the workshop side as a way of revitalizing of the events.

MS recommended that all WLC members support BASC Wildfowling Department with these events and encourage their members and others to attend these events. If the events aren’t picked up well by the wildfowling community, then at least we have attempted to change and develop the conference plan.

  1. NRW, Dyfi & GWfG

ID gave a report updating the WLC

NRW

Discussed ongoing problems with regard to shooting on private land, which led to update regarding judicial review.

Review of impact of wildfowling on rare species – Red and Amber list species.

GrD raised the inaccuracy of using ‘Rare’ to define the species of the birds.

Dyfi

(REDACTED to honour confidentiality)

GWfG

BASC and Dyfi, Mawddach & Dysynni Wildfowlers continue to support the GWfG project. BASC, NRW and RSPB are taking part in a Abdominal Profile Index survey of the Dyfi GWfG.

Habitat study event next week.

Last October BASC Voluntary moratorium was extended from Wales to parts of England. However complaints were made to AEWA, which was forwarded to DEFRA.

DEFRA sought legal clarification regarding the moratorium extension and was advised that this wasn’t considered enough to protect the GWfG. 

DEFRA have entered a consultation period and the proposal is to remove GWfG from the quarry list, but that they add the European White Fronted Goose in its place. Our response is required by 25.02.2019.

GrD asked which legislation is being amended. ID confirmed it is the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Raised concerns regarding amending schedule 2pt 1 as this opens the opportunity and arguments from others to remove other species from the quarry list.

GD asked if rather than removing species this could be instead restricted to different counties. ID stated that this would be problematic in relation to the act being 1981 and the counties now in 2019.

JG clarified that we are in contact with the other Stakeholders taking part in the DEFRA consultation. BASC honoring the voluntary moratorium ensures that we are assisting our wildfowlers to remain legal.

MS wanted the WLC to note that he thanked Ian Danby and all his colleagues at BASC for all their assistance and support with the matters on the Dyfi Estuary. Without the vital support both wildfowling clubs on the Dyfi would not be wildfowling.

Action Point 5 – Commendation for Ian Danby to BASC Council

  1. AEWA Wigeon & Pochard

Pochard

Flyway update following latest visit to AEWA in South Africa from Matt Ellis given by JG

Pochard protected at AEWA level and should not be shot across flyaway. EU cannot amend the Birds Directive and also cannot action this in the 20 days to action AEWA’s edit, as a result has put in a reservation. UK Government has urged to protect at National Level but cannot action until 2020. 3 potential actions.

1)      To remove from quarry list

2)      Introduction of adaptive harvest management

3)      Temporary moratorium

MH requested more information regarding Adaptive Harvest Management. JG clarified that this could be advisory steps and recommendations to assist breeding, modification of seasons – length, reduction/limitation on bag.

GrD stated that education is vital, Pochard being freshwater duck and not typically shot by wildfowlers. Education in wildfowl identification is vital. This should be aimed at non-wildfowlers but for game shooters. BASC must speak to general shooting community to ensure they know what they are shooting. 

Action Point 6 – Recommendation by WLC to BASC Council to explore Adaptive Harvest Management.

Wigeon

There has been a 20 plus years decline so they are in need of special attention. BASC is working with hunting organisations in Scandinavia on projects to improve breeding success. AEWA is looking at an Adaptive Harvest Management for this species specifically. The better data we can provide the less conservative a management plan will be, through better more detailed bag returns, would clubs consider issuing bag returns for all their shooting not just Crown Estate.

AEWA Change in focus – looking at land management schemes, to improve breeding grounds and habitats. AEWA are looking for Partners to support them financially as they have limited funds. JG suggested that this is something WHCT could potentially support.

PC asked if there was any information suggesting that the birds are moving out of the areas that are signed up to AEWA agreement.

PW put to WLC, that a recommendation to BASC Council in relation to the annual donation to projects, that BASC continue to support WHCT with projects like this.

MS requested that more information be provided by Matt Ellis, how can clubs / wildfowlers assist? This information is needed before a decision is made by WLC in relation to any recommendations.

IC asked if this could be expanded to include all species that we should be supporting that are on the quarry list to ensure our continued sport.

  1. Collection Of Duck Wings

HW gave an update regarding the wing collection survey.

Advised that all BASC offices are accepting and collecting wings. At Wing workshops/Game fairs and BASC offices staff will be collecting wings and training people to be able to age and sex their own wings.

PN queried what the information from the wing survey will be used for. Suggested that WF clubs will falsify their data in a bid to protect the sport. Suggested that the information could be used against wildfowlers.

RP discussed difficulties in getting club member to participate in wing survey, suggested an app that works using a standard photo that can be forwarded to BASC for analysis.

  1. Online Bag Recording for Crown Estate Returns

SR gave a report updating the WLC

SR has sent an email to all club online bag recording officers reminding to submit bag returns by the 31.03.2019.

SR has been contacting all online bag return officers by telephone or in person to talk individually and support if need be.

Advised that currently there are no reported problems and people are submitting. SR advised WLC that he is able to support in training nominated online bag reporting officers in how to use the system.

PW clarified that it is BASC recommendation that all clubs submit their returns via the online bag recording system. It’s an efficient, simple system. Most clubs have and are using the online bag recording system and a designated online bag recording officer. The data submitted is exactly the same process as submitting a paper copy to returns officer who would then post to BASC.

A very small number of affiliated and non-affiliated clubs refuse to use the new bag recording system. Does the committee think in those situations we should charge clubs for time spent inputting data from paper forms?

MS stated that the clubs that are not using the online system need to be encouraged to use it. He would rather the WF department’s time is spent better on more technical matters such as consents.

BJ asked that we have the break down charges and club numbers for next time this matter is raised. JG agreed this would happen.

Action Point 7 – Recommendation by WLC to defer any consideration of charging for inputting for another year.

  1. Any Other Business

A. GC raised the subject of leases with Natural Trust. That a fellow club had been requested as part of their lease negotiation to cease Wildfowling between certain hours of the day. GC Wanted to know if any other clubs had National Trust Leases and if this was the case with them, locally or nationally.
GrD advised that this was the case. That local areas make decisions

B. AMcD asked that meetings be held on Saturday or Sunday, so that people who work during the week can attend.

JG advised that BASC are flexible and that it is choice and preference of the WLC. A vote was taken with the majority of the WLC preferring a weekday meeting.

RP suggested that we have a pre-season meeting.

C. MS requested an updated regarding the part-funded PhD. Asked if some information could be circulated. HW advised that the field work of the PhD finishes next week and then the rest of the year will be spent writing up the analysis.

The student will be giving presentations in to her preliminary analysis including methods at the two scheduled Wildfowling Workshops.

D. MS asked for update regarding BASC Plastic Campaign. JG updated WLC that Caroline Bedell that the new Executive Director of Conservation has a dedicated campaign scheme of work to be carried out regarding plastic.

E. JG raised to WL, if there would be much take up club wise for a National Litter Pick Week as a ‘feel good’ PR programme.

F. CJ raised Morcambe Bay Wildfowers 100th Birthday asked if there was any progress. PW advised that he is liaising with the club regarding the matter.

G. IC stated that there should be a literature review of all information that relates to wildfowling and its impact on disturbance. Locally, National and International. Pulling it together in an employable form would and should be time well spent.

Action Point 8 – PW clarified that the first chapter of the second PhD is a literary review of the previous PhD. PW asked for HW to confirm this.

H. MS requested clarification of line management from BASC Chief Executive to the Wildfowling Department.

End of Meeting AM thanked all for their attendance and participation.

 

BRITISH ASSOCIATION FOR SHOOTING AND CONSERVATION

Wildfowling Liaison Committee

Meeting held on 11 April 2018

At BASC, Marford Mill, Rossett, Wrexham, LL12 0HL

Minutes

Attendance:  

  • John Dryden – Chairman (JD)
  • Paul Williamson – Secretary (PW)
  • Janette Lowrie – Minute Secretary (JL)
  • Christopher Graffius – BASC Director of Communications
  • Matt Ellis – BASC Scientific Advisor (ME)
  • Dennise Shepherd – BASC Conservation Officer (DS)
  • John Thornley (JT)
  • Richard Playle (RP)
  • Pete Nichols (PN)
  • Brian Johnson (BJ)
  • Alasdair Mitchell (AM)
  • Peter Catling (PC)
  • Mike Sherman (MS)
  • Mat Holloway (MH)
  • Robin Marshall Ball (RMB)
  • Craig Jenkinson (CJ)
  • Thomas Adamson (TA)
  • Graham Downing (GD)

1. Apologies

Apologies were received from Glynn Cook, Allen Musselwhite, Richard Dicks, Graham Crompton Howe, Allan MacDonald, Nick Millman and Emrys Heard.

2. Declaration of interests

The following members of the committee declared an interest in:

Agenda item 5

Pete Nichols, Richard Playle and Peter Catling.

Agenda item 7

As members of the AUKW – Pete Nichols, Richard Playle, Craig Jenkinson, Matt Holloway, Tom Adamson and Peter Catling.

3. Minutes of the last meeting

The minutes of the 9 September and 19 October 2017 were approved and signed as a true record.

4. Matters arising

9 September 2017 meeting

AP1 – PW/PN

BASC agreed to clarify the background to a paper given to Council in January 2015 on the legality of NE’s approach to wildfowling consents.

Council papers and discussions for the Jan 2015 council meeting were reviewed and there were no agenda items or discussions on this matter. The committee would still like to receive clarification on any paper given to council. This point will be looked into further.

PW and PN liaised and it was 28th January 2016 Council minutes agenda item B4 that clarification was required on. To seek Council’s decision on whether to spend £5000 plus VAT on a legal opinion. Council agreed to this.

The minutes were reviewed and there was a paper on this presented to Council by Tim Russell on whether to spend further money on a further legal opinion.  Council approved the expenditure and the legal opinion was sought and circulated to the WLC.

AP2 – PW

The committee agreed that all clubs should be informed of the consultation going out on the 2 October. The clubs should all be invited to the meeting with NE on 7th October at Sutton Coldfield where NE would present and answer questions regarding the consultation. The committee will be involved in the BASC response to this consultation. This action point was completed.

AP3 – PW

Sporting Rights Rent

The committee thought it would be helpful to have an article in Shooting & Conservation on Sporting Rights Rent.

PW spoke to the Publications’ team and it was decided to include this in the Frequently Asked Questions Section.

AP4 – PW

A member of the committee asked if BASC intended to make a statement about Wildfowlers Association Uk/Ltd. PW would discuss with BASC press team.

PW discussed this with the press team and agreed to monitor this going forward.

AP5 – PW

There was concern about the wording in more recent Crown Leases in connection with compliance with using the on line returns system. The committee believed the wording was harsh. PW made reference to management plans. BASC to discuss with the Crown Estate.

PW reviewed the Crown Estate leases and wording has not altered since 2007.  Our template is the same.

CJ stated there was new wording in leases and he will send this to PW. PW and CJ to chat after the meeting.

Action Point 1: CJ

AP6 – PW

It was asked if BASC was going to comment on the Lords Committee Call for Evidence on the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006. PW would look into this.

BASC decided not to respond to the consultation.

AP7 – to be brought forward to autumn 2018

The committee recommends to Council that there should be no charge to clubs for choosing not to enter data into the electronic bag return system for the next 12 months.  This will be reviewed again in 12 months’ time.

Action Point 2:  Bring forward to the autumn 2018 meeting

19 October meeting

No action points to carry forward.

5. BASC email sent to Pete Nichols in error

The committee were informed that David Muldoon has resigned and this matter is now closed.

6. NE consultation on guidance review for consenting wildfowling

DS presented a PowerPoint presentation to the committee. There was lots of discussion and comments added to the document.  This will be circulated before the 21 April meeting.

Action Point 3:  DS

BASC’s partnership agreement with NE was discussed. The last partnership agreement ran out in March 2018.  A new partnership agreement is to be launched at the Ragley gamefair.  The agreement to run for 3 years. We are at the drafting stage of the agreement at the moment.  PW to circulate the wording of the Partnership agreement on consenting.

Action Point 4:  PW

The committee agreed that all wildfowling parties attending the 26 April workshop need to present a united front and not be in conflict on the day. We will all be delivering the same theme but with different nuances.   

7. 21 April Open Meeting re NE consultation on guidance review for consenting wildfowling

48 people have booked to attend.

BASC to invite Simon Breasley to attend as an observer.  At the end of the meeting the attendees of the 26 April workshop will get together for a discussion.

Action Point 5: DS

8. Second BASC part funded PhD

  • This PhD is aiming to produce more generic guidance on how disturbance can impact on the survival of waterbirds. It is focusing on time budgets in wigeon and brent geese as we already have significant data on these species.
    • But we are collecting data on all birds.
  • A key difference with this project is that we record what the birds do when there is no disturbance to get a better idea of when birds will move naturally.
  • Thanks to the Devon wildfowlers for their assistance – We collected a good run of data.
  • Lindsay will begin analysing preliminary results in the next few months. We will be conducting fieldwork again in 2018/19.

9. Pochard – AEWA increased protection

  • Pochard were uplisted by IUCN in 2015 and in consequence will be given full protection by AEWA in December this year.
  • We are exploring options for how the existing low level of shooting in the UK could be allowed to continue.

10. Rice breast

  • 51 records of rice breast reported this year. The project is still live so please keep reporting your cases in 2018/19
  • A 2 page summary has been produced to show the results of the surveillance work, and the results of the survey. Please feel free to distribute it.
  • Rice breast appears to be an emerging disease, especially in dabbling ducks and we expect it to become more common in the coming years
  • Thanks to wildfowlers we have two new confirmed hosts for sarcocystis (gadwall and pintail)
  • We are hoping to run a survey across Europe, with help from FACE, to see how Sarcocystis has spread

 

A 2 page summary was given out at the meeting, a PDF will be circulated

Action Point 6:  ME

11. Collection of duck wings

  • We had a disappointing level of participation in the scheme. In total we had 104 wings, from 8 individuals.
    • 56% were wigeon, 28% teal and 10% mallard.
    • There is not enough data to provide any more meaningful breakdown this year
  • Hunters across Europe are under increasing pressure to provide better data on the bags and demographics of migratory species to help manage flyway populations. It’s been made very clear in a number of international treaty meetings that where there are no effective voluntary means to collect this information, then regulators should consider statutory data collection schemes.
  • Additionally, we need much better data in order to protect quarry shooting in the UK
    • When we don’t have data to prove hunting ISN’T having an impact then regulators MUST assume it does under the precautionary principle.
  • We will work with BASC regional staff and joint councils to increase participation next year.

 

12. Update – on-line bag recording for Crown Estate returns – Dennise

An update was given to the committee. BASC analyses returns for 44 clubs.  In 2016/17, fifteen of those clubs submitted paper returns.  The deadline for submitting returns for 2017/18 was 1st April.  To date five clubs have not engaged with the system and are submitting paper returns for BASC to enter data on behalf of the club.

Feedback received from survey of users conducted last year is still being implemented.  While the overwhelming majority of users gave very positive feedback, but the issues raised by clubs are being thoroughly considered.  Concerns about club members inputting data directly onto the system can be addressed by nominating a club officer to enter data on behalf of club members.

CJ and DS to discuss after the meeting.

Action Point 7:  DS

13. Moratorium on Greenland White Fronted Geese

  • AEWA requires that GWfG are protected from overwinter mortality.
  • We believe that the voluntary moratorium in Wales, and the limited numbers actually present in England satisfies the AEWA requirements.
  • However, AEWA has received a complaint that this protection is not enough and have now launched an Implementation Review Process (IRP) – basically a disciplinary action against the UK government.
  • Defra have approached us and asked if we would support a voluntary moratorium on the shooting of GWfG in England. This is in recognition of the success of the voluntary moratorium in Wales.
  • The WLC supports an England-wide voluntary moratorium on the shooting of GWfG, provided it doesn’t impact the shooting of European white-fronted geese.
  • Given the slight overlap in potential range of the two races a moratorium may have to cover an area extending north from the Morecambe Bay estuary, north east to the Tees estuary. This could impact on shooting around Morecombe Bay and the WLC agreed discussions should be had with the Lancashire Forum before an agreement is reached.

Action Point 8:  PW/ME

  14. Plastic Wads – Litter

  • The Danish hunting association has lobbied their government to introduce a ban on plastic shotgun wads in 2021.
  • They acknowledge that there currently isn’t the technology to make this work, but they are hoping that a deadline will incentivise development.
  • Plastic cartridges and wads were the most common plastic litter found on Danish beaches.
  • We don’t have comparable data for the UK, but we could get it if there is interest.
  • There is little information on the impact of the biodegradable alternatives, but there would likely be a cost implication, and a number of possible alternatives produce considerable quantities of greenhouse gases when they break down.

15. Any other business

15.1     Any dead ringed birds should be reported to the BTO or MS informed.

15.2      JT on behalf of Council thanked the team for all the work that the

BRITISH ASSOCIATION FOR SHOOTING AND CONSERVATION

 Wildfowling Liaison Committee

19 October 2017

Recommendations to CouncilMinute reference

The committee recommends to Council that BASC position with respect to Natural England’s consultation regarding consenting of wildfowling should be  

BASC believes that the changes proposed by Natural England in its consultation “Wildfowling GuidanceReview” will be a non productive step for both wildfowling and conservation.  The proposals, if implemented, will introduce more bureaucracy for both wildfowling clubs and Natural England advisers on the ground. The proposals, if implemented, will introduce disproportionate restrictions on wildfowling in contravention of the Regulators’ Code and the Growth Duty.  If Natural England implements its proposals it will be acting contrary to its ‘general purpose’ with regard to the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006.  BASC believes that the grant of wildfowling consents to clubs in England will be improved by removing the unnecessary maximum visit condition; by introducing a simpler assessment system; and by introducing a minimum consent duration of at least 20 years.

2

BRITISH ASSOCIATION FOR SHOOTING AND CONSERVATION

Wildfowling Liaison Committee

Meeting held on Thursday 19th October 2017 At The Ramada Hotel, Penns Lane, Walmley, Sutton Coldfield, B76 1LH

Minutes

Attendance: 

  • John Dryden – Chairman (JD)
  • Paul Williamson – Secretary (PW)
  • Matt Ellis – BASC Scientific Advisor (ME)
  • John Thornley – BASC Vice Chairman (JT)
  • Robin Marshall Ball – BASC Council (RMB)
  • Brian Johnson (BJ)
  • Mike Sherman (MS)
  • Richard Playle (RP)
  • Peter Catling (PC)
  • Craig Jenkinson (CJ)
  • David Muldoon (DM)
  1. Apologies

Apologies were received from Kenn Ball, Allan MacDonald , Pete Nichols, Graham Downing, Mat Holloway, Nick Millman Richard Dicks, Tom Adamson, Graham Crompton Howe, Allen Musselwhite and Emrys Heard.

  1. Natural England’s consultation on consenting wildfowling

Prior to the meeting BASC circulated a “BASC initial thoughts paper” in connection to NE consultation. This paper was reviewed by the committee during the meeting and agreement was reached regarding the draft position BASC should take in terms of tone of response and a position statement.

The position statement that the committee recommended for Council approval was

BASC believes that the changes proposed by Natural England in its consultation “Wildfowling Guidance Review” will be a non productive step for both wildfowling and conservation.  The proposals, if implemented, will introduce more bureaucracy for both wildfowling clubs and Natural England advisers on the ground. The proposals, if implemented, will introduce disproportionate restrictions on wildfowling in contravention of the Regulators’ Code and the Growth Duty.  If Natural England implements its proposals it will be acting contrary to its ‘general purpose’ with regard to the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006.  BASC believes that the grant of wildfowling consents to clubs in England will be improved by removing the unnecessary maximum visit condition; by introducing a simpler assessment system; and by introducing a minimum consent duration of at least 20 years.

The meeting then agreed to the following timeline ahead of the 1st December 2017 deadline.

20th October 2017 – BASC’s Draft Response to be sent to WLC

20th October 2017 – Fast Track to be sent to Wildfowlers – confirming position statement and salient timeline dates

27th October 2017 – Deadline for WLC to respond on BASC’s draft response

3rd November 2017 – BASC to circulate draft response to Clubs and members. Not to be placed on the BASC website

10th November 2017 – Deadline for Clubs and members to respond to BASC’s draft response

17th November 2017 – BASC to submit response to NE. BASC to send out to clubs and members the BASC response, a response framework for clubs and a response framework to members.

The WLC wanted to put on record their appreciation of the efficient and very effective manner the BASC team had worked to date on this very important matter and in particular, Paul Williamson for liaison with the wildfowling clubs and coordinating BASC response, Matt Ellis and Dennise Shepherd for technical  contribution, Kate Ives and Kiri Thompson for the robust Business Intelligence due diligence and drafting of the BASC initial paper and Conor O’Gorman for policy direction and tone of response.

Date of next meeting TBA

BRITISH ASSOCIATION FOR SHOOTING AND CONSERVATION

Wildfowling Liaison Committee

Meeting held on Saturday 9 September 2017

At The Ramada Hotel, Penns Lane, Walmley, Sutton Coldfield, B76 1LH

 

Minutes

Attendance: 

  • John Dryden – Chairman (JD)
  • Paul Williamson – Secretary (PW)
  • Matt Ellis – BASC Scientific Advisor (ME)
  • Janette Lowrie – Minute Secretary (JL)
  • Brian Johnson (BJ)
  • Kenn Ball (KB)
  • Allan MacDonald (AD)
  • Pete Nichols (PN)
  • Mike Sherman (MS)
  • Nick Millman (NM)
  • Richard Playle (RP)
  • Peter Catling (PC)
  • Craig Jenkinson (CJ)
  • Tom Adamson (TA)

1. Apologies

Apologies were received from Graham Downing, David Muldoon, Robin Marshall Ball, Mat Holloway, Richard Dicks, Graham Crompton Howe, Allen Musselwhite and Emrys Heard.

 

2. Declaration of interests

Any declaration of interests will be stated under the agenda item.

 

3. Minutes of the last meeting

The minutes of the last meeting were approved and signed as a true record.

 

4. Matters arising

Action Point 1 – TR – NE consultation online –   TR informed Natural England (NE).

Action Point 2 – TR – NE consultation should be anonymous and allow people to give contact details if they wish. TR informed NE.

Action Point 3: TR – If letting people send in emails with their comments would be helpful. It was recommended that an element of free text be included. TR informed NE.

Action Point 4: Christopher Graffius (CG)

BASC agreed to clarify the background to a paper given to Council in January 2015 on the legality of NE’s approach to wildfowling consents.

Council papers and discussions for the Jan 2015 council meeting were reviewed and there were no agenda items or discussions on this matter. The committee would still like to receive clarification on any paper given to council. This point will be looked into further.

Action Point 1:  PW/PN

Agenda item 11 from the November 2016 minutes that were signed and approved on the 3 March 2017 was challenged.  It was agreed that this matter would be discussed under item 12 on the agenda

 

5. Wildfowling team operational plan

The 2018 wildfowling department operational plan was submitted to Senior Management at the end of July.

Council had requested that all BASC teams refine plans from previous years which were very detailed and unwieldly documents. Each department was therefore requested to provide its top 3 activities / actions for 2018.

The Wildfowling Teams top 3 priorities for 2018 are

  • Supporting wildfowling clubs following the introduction of Natural England’s new consenting regime
  • Promote the BASC Wildfowling Club Manual and the Wildfowling Permit Scheme
  • Ensuring clubs use the new web based green shoots mapping and bag recording system.

The committee endorsed the forward plan and agreed that the team is doing the right things.

The good work that BASC do with young shots and the scout jamboree were also discussed.

The committee recommended that BASC regional officers should be more engaged in wildfowling and that this should not just be left to the wildfowling officer.

 

6. Update on NE consultation on consenting wildfowling

The timeline for the consultation process is on schedule.

The consultation will go live on Gov.uk at the beginning of October (2nd) and will remain open for a 6 week period.  NE will send an email explaining about the consultation and providing a link to it to BASC which can then be distributed to clubs. The invitation to respond to the consultation will also go out to RSPB, CLA, WWT, etc and our NE advisors.  The link should become live from 2nd October.  NE have stated it is an open consultation so anyone can comment but they want to get as many clubs as possible to respond so provided the email is sent in its entirety, ie with full explanation of process, etc, NE are happy for clubs to forward it.

NE also state  they wish to remind the members at the WLC that any changes NE can make must still comply with the legal framework set out under the Habitat Regulations which guards against any adverse effect on the integrity of the site.  An assessment we still have to be undertaken and a measure of the activity must be part of that assessment so that a conclusion about the possible impacts can be reached.

BASC met with NE on 19th May to discuss NE’s review of Poole Harbour PhD. BASC was represented by John Dryden, Tim Russell, Paul Williamson and Matt Ellis. NE was represented by Adrian Jowitt, Sue Beale, Stella Bayliss, Richard Caldow and Helen Rowell.

The purpose of this meeting was to discuss the PhD in terms of its aims, main messages and use.  The meeting also provided the opportunity to discuss the second BASC funded PhD and then discuss the consultation – process, timing, coverage, etc.

BASC reaffirmed its view that the PhD filled important knowledge gaps around disturbance and its key message was that wildfowling is significantly less disturbing to birds than walkers. BASC therefore wanted it to mean that a lot less wildfowling consents would go through Appropriate Assessment and would fall out at the coarse screening stage.

NE were more cautious about the outcomes of the PhD. They had concerns about using the modelling associated (recreational users and species) with Poole Harbour on other English Estuaries.

NE were positive about BASC’s second PhD and formally requested that they had further involvement with the areas of study associated with this PhD.

The committee agreed that all clubs should be informed of the consultation going out on the 2 October. The clubs should all be invited to the meeting with NE on 7th October at Sutton Coldfield where NE would present and answer questions regarding the consultation. The committee will be involved in the BASC response to this consultation.

Action Point 2: PW

 

7. Second BASC part funded PhD

Matt Ellis gave the following up date to the Committee:

Lindsay Biermann, BASC’s new PhD student has started with Bournemouth University and is following on from the first study. She is aiming to produce a toolkit for site managers to be able to assess the impact from all sources of disturbance.

BASC are including Natural England in the planning phases of the PhD to ensure that the project addresses their concerns and they will be consulted throughout. However, NE will have no editorial control over the results, will not have control over the direction of the fieldwork and will have no control over the student.

Lindsay will very shortly begin fieldwork on the Exe and has moved down there for the winter to maximise the data she can collect. The Devon Wildfowling & Conservation Association have been hugely supportive of this new PhD and have met with Lindsay to discuss fieldwork and I’d like to record my personal thanks to Nick, Pat and the whole DWCA. Devon have followed on from the great help from the Dorset Wildfowlers before them with our first PhD.

BASC have chosen a different estuary in order to try and make the results as widely applicable as possible, and also to allow comparison of bird responses across different harbours.

Catherine, the first PhD student has produced a draft scientific paper which she is trying to finalise because she is expecting her first child.

The 1st PhD has use beyond that of just NE. There were concerns raised at the AEWA Goose Management Plan about the risks of disturbing species by increasing hunting, which BASC were able to assure them would have a low impact. Similar concerns were raised and dealt with at the Convention of Migratory Species scientific council.

The Committee wanted recording in the minutes their thanks to Matt Ellis for all the work he has done on disturbance.

 

8. Wildfowling Conference agenda

The 2018 Wildfowling Conference will be held on Saturday 3rd March 2018 at Ramada Hotel, Sutton Coldfield.  The committee agreed the following agenda

1. The impact of international scientific developments on wildfowling – Matt Ellis 2. New PhD – Lindsay Biermann and Richard Stillman – Bournemouth University

After break

3. The importance of Duck Wing data- Richard Hearn – WWT 4. Update from FACE on Brexit and future relations – FACE 5. NE Guidance on consenting wildfowling – NE

After Lunch

6. Online Bag Recording and Species Recording – Ian Danby 7. Clevedon WA – importance of engaging with conservation

Ends with WHT Auction

The committee supported the Wildfowling conference agenda presented to them.

 

9. Pochard

Matt Ellis updated the committee as follows:

Common pochard have been declining in the UK, and across the flyway for the last 20 years. The main threats to the population are loss of breeding habitat, competition with carp, and predation from foxes, mink and raccoon dogs. This decline has led to them recently (October 2015) being uplisted to vulnerable by IUCN at the flyway level. This makes pochard the only IUCN red-listed quarry species in the UK.

Under the AEWA agreement text any species that is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species must be moved to column A category 1(b) of Table 1. Column A, category 1 is the highest level of protection under AEWA and means that the species can no longer be shot. Pochard will almost certainly be moved to this category at the next AEWA meeting of parties, in November 2018.

There are around 300,000 pochard shot annually across Europe and so it is likely that the EU will request a “reservation” to allow shooting to continue. This will probably need to be done under an International Single Species Action Plan and an adaptive harvest management framework which will require accurate recording of the number of individuals shot each year.

 

10. Rice Breast

Update given by Matt Ellis.

BASC’s joint project with the WWT to monitor the spread of rice breast has been progressing well – thank you all very much for your support in the last year. The results of the survey to duck and goose shooters in the UK had a great response and showed that there has been a rapid increase in the number of ducks found with rice breast in the last 15 years. The next phase of the project is to send a similar survey out to European hunting associations to try and get a better understanding of how the disease has spread across Europe, when it first appeared and in what species.

The disease has appeared from nowhere in the last 15 years and the results of this survey were presented earlier this month at the International Union of Game Biologists. Mallard were the most commonly reported species, but wigeon appear to be more susceptible, and this disease may be contributing to their reduction in breeding performance of wigeon in the past 10 years. Male duck appear more susceptible than female ducks, but this may be an artefact of UK hunting techniques, which tend to lead to an over-representativeness of males. The cases are quite well spread throughout the UK, but with overrepresentation in Northern Ireland, the NW of Scotland and East Anglia. Finally, DNA analysis shows that the species in the UK is identical to the species found in America, which may explain the northern bias.

BASC are still interested in sightings in the coming season so please report any birds you find with the disease through the sarcocystissurvey.org.uk website.

 

11. Collection of duck wings

BASC are keen to work with the WWT to begin a duck wing scheme in the UK. This would allow information to be gathered on the age and sex ratios of individuals in the bag. This in turn will allow assessment of how sustainable the bag is, and also to provide invaluable information to biologists trying to understand any future changes in the populations.

BASC would like to ask members to collect wings this season and for a representative to bring them to the wildfowling conference. BASC will then age and sex the wings, and take a photograph with a mobile phone to allow comparison of the accuracy of ageing and sexing wings in the hand, compared with the same wings aged and sexed by mobile phone photos. BASC aim for this to inform a scientific paper that BASC would publish on the effectiveness of photo ID for duck wings.

The WLC supported this proposal.

 

12. Update – on-line bag recording for Crown Estate returns

BASC coordinated support and promotion of use of the Green Shoots Mapping and Bag Recording System to wildfowling clubs prior to and during last year.  Uptake from clubs with Crown leases was excellent with only a handful of clubs not embracing the new system of working.  3581 visits accounting for 6169 birds has been recorded, which is similar to the levels seen in previous seasons.

In addition each club are able to generate their own reports of wildfowling activity on their club land through the system. This has been well-received.  It has also significantly assisted the wildfowling team with generating end of year reports to the crown estate to comply with the terms of their agreements.

It was agreed to schedule the 2017 survey shortly after the wildfowling season so that we could capture the feedback from wildfowling users after they had completed a season’s use in addition to other users.

The survey is covered in this month’s Shooting and Conservation for the common messages like that 86% would recommend it to others.  However the feedback from the wildfowling team perspective revolved around the bagged it section and the Manage it sections.

In Bagged it, where wildfowlers submit shooting visit information to their clubs, the response was the 76% found it easy to use and 85% found producing a person seasonal summary easy.  In Manage It, More than half found the core functions easy (58-68%). It also highlighted which tasks they found more difficult. These results have assisted in identifying improvements which have formed part of the 2018 budget bid.

The proposals include budget for:

  • In-year developments so we can attend to feedback from members to genuine issues quickly.
  • Improvement to the secure administration features for BASC staff so we can more rapidly help members and clubs using the site.
  • Geolocation options into map windows which was as common piece of feedback from all users
  • Collection of bag data for wildfowling permit schemes from non-members – Allow non-BASC members to input wildlife records and shooting visits. This allows the wildfowling team and regions to get bag return data entered from permit schemes like Strangford Loch (National Trust), the Dyfi and Lindisfarne into the same system we have created for Crown Estate wildfowling leases.  Currently this data has to be keyed in by staff and so there is scope for cost saving.
  • Wildlife data reporting – Develop reporting for members, wildfowling clubs and BASC on wildlife data they (or their club members) have placed into GSM&BRS. Currently users can put in data but not interrogate it.
  • Public mapping of wildlife data – Develop a real-time mapping of records held in GSM&BRS (that we are permitted to share) for display on the main BASC website and GSM&BRS. This would provide a real asset to both publically promote and communicate the conservation value of shooting as well encourage members to provide data in response to our campaigns

One member was opposed to geo locations and time locations.

The committee supported the on-line bag recording system and support any budget bids for this that are put before Council and E&F.

The committee discussed whether or not clubs who do not use the online system should be charged. It was agreed that it was important to continue to support all clubs with the transition to the online system. The following recommendation was made.

The committee recommends to Council that there should be no charge to clubs for choosing not to enter data into the electronic bag return system for the next 12 months.  This will be reviewed again in 12 months’ time.

Action Point 6:  PW     

 

13. Any other business

13.1     Wildfowling Officer recruitment

PW informed the committee of the recruitment of a Wildfowling Officer and asked them to pass this on to anyone who they think may be interested.

 

13.2     Sporting Rights Rent

The committee thought it would be helpful to have an article in Shooting & Conservation on Sporting Rights Rent.

Action Point 3:  PW

 

13.3     Findhorn Bay

The committee discussed the current position concerning wildfowling on Findhorn Bay.

A request was made by the Chairman that anyone wishing to make comment on social media to contact the Press Office or Colin Shedden first.

13.4     A member of the committee asked if BASC intended to make a statement about Wildfowlers Association Uk/Ltd. PW would discuss with BASC press team.

Action Point 4:  PW

13.6     There was concern about the wording in more recent Crown Leases in connection with compliance with using the on line returns system. The committee believed the wording was harsh. PW made reference to management plans BASC to discuss with the Crown Estate.

Action point 5:  PW

13.7     It was asked if BASC was going to comment on the Lords Committee Call for Evidence on the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006.. PW would look into this.

Action Point 6: PW

13.8     Matt Ellis raised the following AOB points

Wigeon and pintail

The European Commission have highlighted concerns over the declining population of pintail and wigeon, which are both showing real declines at the flyway (-3% both) and UK level (-46% and -15% respectively over 10 years). There are no moves currently to protect these species, but if the populations begins to decline at a greater rate we could see pintail being uplisted under the IUCN red list relatively soon. This would precipitate restrictions under AEWA.

The reasons for declines in both species are poorly understood, but are likely to be due to declines in breeding success. This is likely to be due to a mix of sarcocystis, especially in wigeon, loss of breeding habitat and increases in predation by racoon dog.

Waterbird Harvest Specialist Group

This is a specialist group under AEWA, co-hosted by Wetlands International and IUCN. This group is examining waterbird hunting activities in relation to international treaties and looking in to ways to make sure all waterbird harvesting across the European flyway is carried out according to the principles of wise use. At the very least this will lead to very strong calls for the sharing of harvest data, but could also lead to adaptive harvest management along the lines of the American system. We are participating in this group and will keep an eye on how it is developing.

Article 12/17 reporting

Under the Birds and Habitats directives the UK must report every 6 years on the numbers of birds and mammals taken each year. This report is now due and we are working with JNCC to help them compile it. However, new this year is a requirement to report on “threats and pressures” to all species. We are engaging very closely with this to ensure that hunting, disturbance and lead are not included without a sound evidence base. We will still be required to submit this data after Brexit.

 Date of next meeting TBA

BRITISH ASSOCIATION FOR SHOOTING AND CONSERVATION

Open Wildfowling Liaison Committee Meeting

The Ramada Hotel, Penns Lane, Walmley, Sutton Coldfield, B76 1LH

Friday 3 March 2017

From 3.00 – 6.00 p.m

 

Minutes

Present – Wildfowling Liaison Committee Members (A-Z by surname)

  • John Dryden – Chairman. Bridgwater Bay Wildfowlers
  • And Dorset Wildfowlers Association
  • Tim Russell – BASC – Secretary
  • Dennise Shepherd –BASC – Minutes
  • Kenn Ball, Newcastle Wildfowlers
  • Peter Catling, Fenland Wildfowlers
  • Richard Dicks, Rockland Wildfowlers
  • Lee Freeston, Chichester Wildfowlers
  • Mark Greenhough, BASC
  • Craig Jenkinson, Hull & East Riding Wildfowlers
  • Brian Johnson, Halton Wildfowlers
  • Robin Marshall Ball, BASC Council
  • Tom McGoldrick, Derrylin & District Gun Club
  • Allen Musselwhite, Langstone & District Wildfowlers
  • David Muldoon, Bridgwater Bay Wildfowlers
  • Peter Nichols, Lytham & District Wildfowlers
  • Richard Playle, Dengie Hundred Wildfowling Club
  • Michael Sherman, Dyfi, Mawddach & Dysynni Wildfowlers
  • Paul Williamson, BASC

Present – Wildfowling Club representatives registered as attending (A-Z by club name)

  • Christopher Graffius, BASC, Acting Chief Executive
  • Roy Hodsdon, Barton on Humber Wildfowling Club
  • Scott Harding, Devon Wildfowlers
  • Nick Millman, Devon Wildfowlers
  • Grant Evans, Frodsham Wildfowlers
  • Nick Ling, Gloucester Wildfowlers
  • Ken Arkley, Hull & East Riding Wildfowlers
  • John Nottage, Kent Wildfowlers
  • Bernard Connolly, Kent Wildfowlers
  • Michael Rae, Kings Lynn West Norfolk WA
  • Ian Branford, Kings Lynn West Norfolk WA
  • Nick Horten, Langstone Wildfowlers
  • Tom Adamson, Lough Foyle
  • Terry Neill, Lough Foyle
  • Trevor Connah, Morecambe Bay Wildfowlers
  • John Eves, Morecambe Bay Wildfowlers
  • Graham Hodgson, Newcastle Wildfowlers
  • Nichol Watson, Newcastle Wildfowlers
  • Sue Watson, Newcastle Wildfowlers
  • Chris Kelly, Preston & District Wildfowlers
  • Keith Ogden, Preston & District Wildfowlers
  • Howard Noon, South Hampshire WA
  • Carl Hansen, South Solway Wildfowlers
  • Matt Holloway, Wentloog
  • Dave Diggins, Wentloog
  • Craig Diggins, Wentloog
  • Ray Highton, Wigtown Bay/Dornoch & Cromarty Firths WA

Introduction to the meeting The Chairman welcomed two new WLC members to their first meeting:   Brian Johnson, Chairman of Halton Wildfowlers, and David Muldoon, Chairman of Bridgwater Bay Wildfowlers.

The Chairman also welcomed the club representatives who were present by invitation of BASC Council.  He explained that the reason for this open meeting was to allow wildfowling members to see how the WLC works.  Contributions from those present were welcomed following WLC discussion of each agenda item.

 

1.    Apologies Graham Crompton Howe, Graham Downing, Emrys Heard, Alan Jarrett, Allan MacDonald

 

2.    Declaration of interests Mike Sherman declared interest in item 6, Review of the use of Shooting on land managed by Natural Resources Wales, in his capacity as vice-chair of Dyfi, Mawddach and Dysynni Wildfowlers Association.

Craig Jenkinson declared interest in item 7.1, Association of UK Wildfowling Clubs Submission to Natural England, in that he had direct input into the submission to NE.

 

3.    Minutes of the last meeting The approved minutes of the meeting held on 26 November 2016 were accepted by WLC and signed as being a correct record of that meeting.

 

4.    Matters arising

Action point 1: MG – Wildfowling operational plan MG gave a presentation on the work the wildfowling team does which is the result of the operational plan. The WLC requested that the presentation is posted on the website.

Action point 2: JD – Details of the 2017 Wildfowling Conference There was a request that BASC’s Chairman give an update on the recent meeting with wildfowlers and progress being made with NE. It was noted that this may not be necessary if Sue Beale indicates NE are open to change and progress with NE is positive.

  • Sue Beale came to the meeting by train from Sussex and she therefore spoke after this request was made. After Sue spoke there was a positive feeling about what was said and the minute records: The Committee agreed that BASC and wildfowlers should work with NE towards a better consenting process.

Action point 3: TR – Rice breast update The Committee were told about the online survey for rice-breast. The Committee asked for this to be added to the BASC website and whether it was possible then add a page on rice breast to the wildfowling pages?

This was completed, see: http://www.sarcocystissurvey.org.uk/

Action point 4:  TR – Duck Ringing Scheme The Committee agreed that BASC should write to the few active ringers saying that no more rings will be sent out and urge members not to use any remaining stock they have. The letter should make it clear that BASC will continue to report on any rings returned.  The WLC agreed with this action.

  • A letter has been sent to all active ringers.

Action point 5:  TR – Sunday shooting During discussions about the Law Commission’s review of wildlife legislation BASC Council agreed to try and get Sunday wildfowling orders overturned. The Law Commissions proposals are not being taken forward. Given the Brexit vote it seems likely that discussions about wildlife legislation will be opened again. The Committee were asked if they continued to support BASC trying to overturn these orders.

  • The WLC agreed that they still want BASC to try and overturn Sunday Wildfowling orders at the opportune time.  Sunday orders were listed as part of the Government Red Tape Challenge, but this would require a local consultation and BASC felt this had a number of potentially damaging consequences for shooting.  The Law Commission review was identified as a further opportunity, but this was not adopted by Government.
  • When wildlife legislation is being reviewed as part of the Brexit process BASC will pursue this action.

Action point 6: MG MG will speak to the editor of S&C with a view to including more wildfowling stories.

  • We have an agreed schedule of articles in S&C for 2017.

5.    Natural England’s consultation on wildfowling consents – how to get clubs involved

The Committee was reminded that during the last WLC meeting Sue Beale talked about NE’s wish to consult as widely as possible with wildfowlers, once they had reviewed the data in the BASC part-funded PhD and other recent disturbance work. Sue also said that BASC would send out the consultation to affiliated clubs on behalf of NE, and that NE would make every effort to consult with non-affiliated clubs.

NE has been given the completed PhD study and key individuals within NE are reviewing the science at the moment. NE staff will then have an internal meeting to discuss the science on 15 March. BASC has also been invited to a follow-up meeting to discuss the science within the study.  BASC staff attending that meeting will be Tim Russell, Paul Williamson and Matt Ellis.

The WLC supported the proposal that Mike Sherman accompanies BASC staff at the scientific review meeting with NE.

Once the science has been discussed fully NE will start to draft their consultation. NE plans to run the consultation from 1 October to 30 November 2017.

Sue Beale has asked for guidance about doing the consultation online as this is NE’s preferred option. Increasingly consultations are run online, BASC does this with the majority of its membership surveys. Responses can be anonymous and people responding can give contact details if they wish.

Sue has also confirmed that respondents can email in their thoughts if they don’t want to complete the online survey.

The consultation will be sent by BASC to affiliated clubs in England via email. The email would contain a link to the consultation document and responses would go directly to NE, not to BASC.

Once the consultation is complete NE will collate responses and then at the start of 2018 draft proposals which they hope to agree by the end of April 2018.

Sue has asked the Committee to consider 4 questions, as follows:

i.    If it supports carrying out the consultation online? It was recognised that an online system is preferable, but that some members may struggle and WLC would not want to preclude those who are unable to use the online system.  It was recommended that paper forms should be available alongside the online consultation.

Once NE has launched the consultation, it was suggested that BASC issue a press release that would include how to obtain a paper form if necessary.  It was also suggested that club secretaries could be asked to identify any members that would need to make a paper submission.

BASC confirmed that the conservation agencies, NE and NRW in particular, do hold joint meetings.  Wales and NI tend to follow NE’s lead, and it was therefore felt that a UK-wide response would be more helpful. It was pointed out that responses from English members in relation to the Welsh MCZ consultation was helpful in stopping these proposals.  TR agreed to discuss this with NE.

Action Point 1: TR

ii.    If it thinks the consultation should be anonymous and allow people to give contact details if they wish? Concern was expressed about the ability of other organisation’s, such as RSPB, which might be able to input to the consultation if responses were anonymous.  It was also felt that anonymous comments do not allow an option for NE to follow-up with the respondent if necessary.

However there was also concern that clubs may not want to upset NE or feel that their local relationship might be jeopardized if contact details are provided.  NE should treat all personal information in line with data protection, and it was recommended that assurances are given by NE that responses will not be shared with local offices.

There was discussion about whether clubs should respond as a body or if individuals should respond directly.  The following points were made:

  • Clubs could canvas their membership for opinion and submit a coordinated response.
  • Individuals should not be prevented from sending in responses.
  • Government consultations commonly view responses on the basis of volume received; the more they have to collate, they realise how big the issue is.
  • For club responses, an indication of the size of the club could help weight the response.
  • Committee members tend to have more experience of the consenting process than individual members, however this can vary depending on the timescale since the Committee last had to deal with a consent.

It was agreed that clubs should submit collated responses, and that they should also encourage, and assist if necessary, other club members to submit their response.

It was agreed that there should be no need for anonymity, but that this could be optional.

Action Point 2: TR

iii.    If letting people send in emails with their comments would be helpful – bearing in mind that it is much harder to interpret free text and respondents often fail to answer the questions that are being asked?

It was felt that set questions alone can be limiting or leading, and that some issues might be overlooked.  It was recommended that an element of free text be included.

Action Point 3: TR

iv.    Were there any more suggestions for NE to consider during the consultation? Geographic locations can help to give context to responses and may indicate areas of the country where consenting issues are more prolific.

It was explained that once the details of NE’s consultation were known, an extended Wildfowling Liaison Committee would be held on this subject. This will advise BASC Council how BASC should respond. The WLC advice will help shape our response, which we will publish on the BASC website. In addition, given the importance of this consultation we will also circulate it to affiliated wildfowling clubs to use if they wish.

5.1    Consent renewals in England required for 2017-18 wildfowling season As outlined at the previous WLC meeting on 26th November, for those sites where a consent is due to be renewed for the 2017-18 wildfowling season, NE is offering the option of a simple 1 year consent extension.  Clubs retain the option of applying for a longer term consent, but this would need to be dealt with by NE using its current processes.  If the position changes during the term of a consent, clubs continue to retain the right to apply for a new consent.

All clubs notified to BASC have been sent a letter from NE outlining the options.

6.    Review of the use of Shooting on land managed by Natural Resources Wales

This item came at the request of Nick Powell, for and on behalf of Dyfi, Mawddach and Dysynni Wildfowlers Association Committee.

The reason behind the call for evidence is following lobbying from those expressing concerns over animal welfare issues connected to pheasant shooting on land NRW manages.

NRW’s call for evidence explanatory documentation is eight pages and clearly explains background and what is expected in terms of evidence.

With regards to background, NRW explains its purpose in pursuing sustainable management of natural resources (SMNR) which is a legal obligation following the Environment (Wales) Act 2015.

NRW also have legal responsibilities associated with the Well-Being and Future Generations Act 2015 which in practice means they have a duty to follow the principles of sustainable management and well-being goals.

NRW are very clear in what evidence they will accept and similarly not accept.

The not accepted list includes popular publications, anecdotal findings, opinions and ideas. This means a call for action from shooting at large, which is BASC’s normal position for general consultations, is not appropriate.

Importantly the list of acceptable evidence is one that will allow a comprehensive response from BASC and relevant BASC clubs and membership, with direct experience of shooting over land managed by NRW.

It is BASC’s intention to deliver a positive message on the significant impact wildfowling has had in terms of both conservation and well-being. It will also be important to remind NRW of the track record that both NRW and wildfowling have had in terms of working together to deliver on the sustainable management of natural resources.

The types of evidence that will be used will include; 2016 BASC funded PhD on disturbance, Crown Estate management plans, JTG procedures, Severe Weather Protocols, UK wide permit schemes (Dyfi and Lindisfarne), BASC Wildfowling Conference, 2015 PACEC report (Value of Shooting), Value of shooting infographics, BASC Codes of Practice, BASC Wildfowling Permit Scheme Booklet, BASC Wildfowling Club Manual, Greenland White-fronted Geese studies.

BASC needs the support of its members in gathering pertinent evidence. Contact has already been made with clubs

BASC has identified 4 leases to wildfowling clubs on land managed by NRW.  These leases would be included in the NRW review.  BASC has already started making contact with these clubs.

Sporting rights issued directly to wildfowling clubs by The Crown Estate in Wales are not directly impacted by this review.  Consents, issued by NRW, would also not directly be considered as part of the consultation.  Reassurance was given that should BASC detect any indication of a wider remit, clubs would be contacted.

BASC needs to support its members with the submission of evidence, and is keen to include evidence of all positive relationships between clubs and NRW, especially where wildfowling has had a positive impact on the environment and well-being goals.

Deadline for submission of evidence is 30th April.

The WLC supported this approach.

 

Any other business

7.1    Association of UK Wildfowling Clubs Submission to Natural England

This item was proposed by Ken Arkley of Hull and East Riding Wildfowlers.

BASC confirmed it had received a copy of the report earlier in the week, but had not had an opportunity to review it prior to the meeting and was not therefore in a position to comment at this meeting.

Craig Jenkinson reported that the submission had already been sent to NE.  He has spoken with Sue Beale, Project Manager, Enabling Protected Sites Owners, who was happy with the approach. Craig added that he genuinely felt Sue is trying to get the consenting process right.

It was confirmed that BASC will review the report carefully.  If necessary, it may be sent to a QC, along with the current NE Guidance on Wildfowling Consents, the Boyer report and the Troman’s report, to provide BASC Council with the necessary legal opinion on the legality of NE’s approach to consenting wildfowling.

If BASC Council is to challenge NE over the approach to consenting wildfowling, it needs to be certain BASC will win.

Ken outlined the background that led to the production of this report.  A number of the issues identified within the NE consenting process had directly affected some wildfowling clubs on the Humber.  When those clubs discussed their experiences with other clubs it became apparent that they either had similar issues or shared concerns about the current NE consenting process.  A group of 13 clubs met in July 2016.  Subsequently, a letter was sent to BASC’s Chairman, Peter Glenser, who in turn invited the signatories to that letter to a meeting held on 28th October 2016 at Marford Mill.  A number of proposals were put forward by the clubs at that meeting for WLC to consider.

Ken reported that because no direct response to these proposals had been received following the meeting, the clubs were not convinced that attempts to go through BASC due process were being taken forward.  As a result the Association of UK Wildfowling Clubs commissioned Thyme Consultants to produce a report on wildfowling consents in England.  The report had been endorsed by circa 50 wildfowling clubs.  Ken added that the document had been rushed on the assumption that this WLC meeting would provide an opportunity to discuss it with NE, and was disappointed that this was not the case.

It was explained that the invitation letter specified that this was an open meeting where there would be an opportunity for clubs to “contribute ideas about how wildfowling clubs can get involved in Natural England’s consultation on wildfowling consents.”  The letter did not state that NE would be present at the meeting.

Ken wanted clubs to have a more influential input into BASC processes.  It was pointed out that this open WLC meeting was providing that opportunity.  The open WLC meeting was one of the proposals agreed at the 28th October meeting with wildfowling clubs.  There would also be further opportunity at the extended WLC that will take place when more details of NE’s consultation are known.

Some members of the committee expressed concern that their clubs had not been consulted on the Association of UK Wildfowling Clubs submission to NE, and therefore questioned whether it fully represented the views of all wildfowling clubs.  Craig explained this was because they were not signatures to the original letter to Peter Glenser.  He also said that the wildfowling clubs involved with the NE submission did not want to undermine BASC, they want to be part of the solution.

Roy Hodgson, Barton-on-Humber Wildfowlers, advised that his club has an open, understanding dialogue with their local NE officer.  The club has achieved a number of conditioned consents, and felt that these conditions were acceptable.  Generally the club has been given 5 year consents.  Because of their good relationship with NE the club was able to obtain consent for fishing on one of their areas, which NE turned around very quickly.  The club is perplexed about the issues being raised at this meeting.

Ken agreed that there was inconsistency in consenting problems experienced by clubs, but that some clubs not directly affected were concerned that similar issues may affect them in the future, and had therefore endorsed the report.  He added that he understood that the process must take its course, but was disappointed that it was taking so long.

Concern was expressed that the situation had arisen where the clubs involved did not have confidence in BASC, and felt that they had to produce their own submission.

It was explained that the work undertaken by BASC is guided by WLC and Council.  WLC were happy with the responses given by NE at the previous meeting last November, and had agreed that BASC and the wildfowlers should work with NE on a better consenting process.  This has not changed.  BASC reiterated its commitment to getting a simpler and more proportional consenting process in England, and the need to go through the rigorous processes to achieve this.

It was explained that at every meeting where BASC has discussed anything with NE, a representative from WLC and one from Council has been involved.

Lots of background work was being undertaken by BASC and WLC to produce the evidence required to support wildfowling, such as the disturbance PhD.

BASC has also communicated at each stage of the consenting review process, and would continue to do so.

The Wildfowling Team relies heavily on scientific support provided by Matt Ellis and experts in other BASC teams.  Its role is to represent the interests of all 143 wildfowling clubs.  The Team works to a policy directed by WLC and Council.  Council adopted the NE partnership agreement, and the Team continues to work within this remit.  The Wildfowling Team is communicating relentlessly with clubs.  The current atmosphere emanating from some clubs is unhelpful and demoralising.

There was support for the work of the Wildfowling Team, but there was a feeling that some issues were not being addressed.

Clarification was sought on the set up of the group of wildfowling clubs involved with the submission, in particular the terms of reference, aims and objectives.  It was explained that when the clubs decided to commission a report, they needed a name and the Association of UK Wildfowling Clubs was agreed.  It was stressed that it was not an attempt to set up an organisation separate to BASC.

BASC agreed to clarify the background to a paper given to Council in January 2015 on the legality of NE’s approach to wildfowling consents.

Action Point 4: CG

Similar consenting issues are occurring with NRW in Wales.  Given that NRW tends to follow NE’s lead, it was agreed that Welsh clubs should be kept informed of progress.

 

7.2    POLICING AND CRIME ACT, 2017

One section of this piece of legislation, which gained Royal Assent on 31st January, modifies parts of the Firearms Acts 1968 – 1997.  It is anticipated to come into effect sometime this spring.  Some areas of legislation affected include:

A firearm is defined in terms of its lethality, lethality of air soft weapons defined, Antique firearms defined for the first time, Conversion of imitation firearms into real ones and many others.  Please see the firearms page of the BASC website https://basc.org.uk/firearms/ for full details or contact the firearms team at HQ.

One area of potential interest for clubs is the section dealing with the authorised loan of firearms for hunting.

This is an attempt to simplify the Section 11(5) exemption which was always confusing as it used terms not defined in the 1968 Act especially “occupier”.

The new exemption is drafted in quite broad terms so as to refer to the lender as “A person who has a right to allow others to enter the premises (it means land) for the purpose of hunting animals, shooting game or vermin”. That person may authorise another in writing to lend a rifle or shotgun on those premises.  In practice this means the landowner, or in the case of leasehold areas, those named on the lease (person or entity).

Four conditions have to be met for this to be lawful.

The borrower of a rifle must be over 17. The purpose of the loan is for hunting, pest control or shooting artificial targets. The borrower must be in the presence of the lender i.e. in sight and earshot. The lender and borrower must comply with any conditions of the certificate.

Full clarification from Firearms Team.

 

7.3    Membership and role of Wildfowling Liaison Committee

Ken asked whether the best way forward might be to bring together a representative from each of the Joint Councils around the UK.  This proposal had been put forward by the clubs at the October 2016 meeting.

It was explained that WLC had reviewed membership to ensure that all parts of the UK is represented.  There was now a commitment to extend membership or offer open meetings where relevant.

Members are invited on the Committee, often in response to issues that they have experienced, to help inform WLC on key areas.  The Association of UK Wildfowling Clubs already has representation on WLC.

The role of WLC is the vehicle for collating wildfowling views and representing makes recommendations for Council to consider.  Wildfowlers were encouraged to increase wildfowling representation on BASC Council.

 

7.4    Open Wildfowling Liaison Committee

The members present stated that they appreciated the opportunity to meet with the WLC, and the meeting format was endorsed.  WLC also felt that the meeting was a useful opportunity and proposed holding an open meeting on an annual basis.

BRITISH ASSOCIATION FOR SHOOTING AND CONSERVATION

Wildfowling Liaison Committee

Meeting held on Saturday 26 November 2016

At The Ramada Hotel, Penns Lane, Walmley, Sutton Coldfield, B76 1LH

 

MINUTES

Present:        

  • John Dryden – Chairman (JD)
  • Tim Russell – Secretary (TR)
  • Janette Lowrie – Minute Secretary (JL)
  • Matt Ellis (ME)
  • Mark Greenhough (MG)
  • Robin Marshall Ball (RMB)
  • Michael Sherman (MS)
  • Lee Freeston (LF)
  • Graham Crompton Howe (GCH)
  • Peter Catling (PC)
  • Peter Nichols (PN)
  • Emrys Heard (EH)
  • Craig Jenkinson (CJ)
  • Allan MacDonald (AMacD)

Sue Beale – Natural England – attended the meeting for agenda item 5 which was taken mid-meeting as she had travelled from Sussex. Sue also remained for the update by Matt Ellis on BASC funded PhDs.

 

  1. Apologies

Apologies were received from Allen Musselwhite (AM), Alan Jarrett (AJ), Graham Downing (GD), David Muldoon (DM), Richard Playle (RP), Kenn Ball (KB), Richard Dicks (RD) and Tom McGoldrick (TMcG)

  1. Declaration of interests

No declarations of interest were received.

  1. Minutes of the last meeting

The minutes of the last meeting were approved and signed as a true record.

  1. Matters arising

Action Point 1: MS to propose to Council that an email address to contact the WLC be set up. Completed and working

The email is designed to go only to the Chairman and Secretary of the WLC to prevent unwanted emails being sent to volunteers. Emails can then be sent to the relevant committee member

The WLC committee have the email addresses of the committee and can email them directly or contact them through the method above.

Action Point 2:  JD/MS to work together to publicise the WLC to the wider membership – completed.  

Action Point 3:  TR Crown bag recording and nil returns. As reported in the minutes the new system will allow members to submit a nil return.

Action Point 4:  TR to find out how the new system would work with permit schemes, especially at Lindisfarne and the Dyfi – these will be done in-house this season but the mechanism is there for the future. The problem is getting data from non-BASC members eg Lindisfarne.

Action Point 5:  TR Trevor Amos, Gedney Drove End and District WA be contacted to pilot the scheme. MG visited the club and found they don’t shoot the foreshore.

Action Point 6:  PN will discuss at the next Lancashire wildfowling forum meeting for clubs to pilot the scheme.  Completed.

Action Point 7: RP will discuss at the next EJC meeting in December and ask for clubs to pilot the scheme.  RP is also interested in his own club joining the pilot scheme. MG has attended several Essex club meetings to promote the scheme and they are using it – Dengie did not get involved in the pilot.

Action Point 8:  TR It was suggested to involve Oliver McCullough and Tommy Mayne to feed in their thoughts about the scheme.  Both were consulted over the development.

Action Point 9:  All Lee Freeston distributed to the meeting a Chichester WA proposed booking in system.  Any comments on this to be emailed to LF.  LF received no comments.

Action Point 10:  TR asked for any further clubs who would like to volunteer to take NE staff out wildfowling.  Fenland, Humber and Lytham put their names forward. These were included in the 2016/17 list of possible sites.

Action Point 11:  TR/MS following discussion about the duck ringing scheme Paul Evans proposed that the committee delegated authority to MS to work with TR to agree a letter to send to clubs for ringers to work with the BTO. Agenda item 14.

Action Point 12:  JL Sightings of sarcocystis (rice breast) disease – JL will email the committee the contact details if they wish to help. The Committee received an email asking them to help the sarcocystis survey. 20 sightings have been reported from 19 locations.

Action Point 13:  TR – data protection and keeping details of members with shotgun certificates. It was agreed that BASC would write to clubs with advice on how to deal with this. Advice was posted in FastTrack and S&C and discussed at the wildfowling conference.

 

  1. Sue Beale, Project Manager, Enabling Protected Sites Owners, Natural England: ‘Using new evidence to simplify and improve wildfowling consents’.

The Committee thanked Sue for travelling to the meeting from her home in Sussex. Sue was invited to the meeting following the presentation she made at the 2016 wildfowling conference and because the BASC funded PhD has been marked and Catherine, the student doing the study, is just completing some additions the examiners requested.

Sue has provided a summary of what she said, this will be the minute for this part of the meeting:

Disturbance Review in relation to Wildfowling

  • The purpose of the review is to provide a summary of the research that has been carried out into the activity of wildfowling and its effects on birds. The review has been timed to coincide with the completion of the PhD, part-funded by BASC, which is focused on the impact of human disturbance of coastal birds.
  • The ideal outcome of the review would be to make the consenting process for wildfowling better, ie more reflective of the activity and securing good environmental outcomes, and more straight-forward for both clubs and NE advisors.
  • At all times, NE have to be mindful of their legal duty under the Habitat Regulations to be able to conclude that any activity either has No Likely Significant Effect at the coarse filter stage or if an Appropriate Assessment is necessary, that it has no adverse effect on the integrity of the European site. Currently there are major gaps in the evidence base which means NE often has to apply the precautionary principle as there are reasonable grounds that the activity could cause harm.
  • The PhD could be one of the building blocks towards constructing an evidence base which could allow a move away from the precautionary principle. However, it is important to note that NE have not had the opportunity to look at the thesis in any detail and this is something that has to be done before any conclusions can be reached.  This detailed process will commence when the PhD is completed at the end of December and is likely to involve a number of NE bird specialists as it will be essential to include particular areas of expertise such as modelling and food availability.    It will also be necessary to explore the applicability of the data to other sites as the study focused largely on one site, Poole Harbour
  • Once the PhD and other research has been brought together it is hoped that the consenting process can provide clubs with greater flexibility in terms of both how the visit numbers are spread over a period and also in the length of any consent.  The length of consents are largely constrained by the limits to the predictive quality of historic data, especially in times of climate change, rising sea levels and changing land management and uses; and in the context of bird populations which may be affected by a multitude of other factors, both on and off site and this has meant that only shorter term consents have been put in place. However, it is hoped that we can work with our legal team to put in place effective review clauses at regular intervals e.g. 5 years, 10 years etc. which would enable us to provide longer term consents which would still meet the necessary duties under the Habitat Regulations.

Consultation

  • Once NE have had the opportunity to analyse the data provided in the PhD and review other disturbance work it may be possible, as outlined above, to make some changes to the current assessment process.  These may not represent major changes to the procedure as it will still be framed within the Habitat Regulations process but it should ensure that the activity and the way in which it is carried out is reflected within the assessment.
  • Once these changes have been drafted it is intended that a consultation process is carried out with as many clubs as possible to ensure that a broad range of views are collected.  BASC will send out the consultation to their affiliated clubs on behalf of NE but every effort will also be made by NE to engage with non-affiliated clubs as well.

One year extensions

  • It is likely that the process of analysis and consultation will take some time, particularly in light of the delays in NE receiving the completed PhD, so it is unlikely that any changes will be in place for the next wildfowling season (Sept 2017).  As this is the case, it is recommended that any clubs which have a consent ending in 2017 seek an extension for one year to their existing consent.  This will not be new one year consent but a straight-forward extension with the same conditions and levels.
  • A list of BASC affiliated clubs which this will effect has already been provided to NE and the information regarding the extensions will be passed on to the relevant NE advisors.

Charging 

  • Charging for pre-consent advice was introduced by NE at the beginning of November 2016.  This covers advice provided prior to a valid notice being submitted.  All landowners/occupiers/lease holders will be provided with a reasonable amount of advice during this period but will be offered the option of using the chargeable service if discussions are lengthy.  It is likely that the only time where this level of advice might be needed in relation to wildfowling is if a new shooting area is proposed.
  • Once a valid notice has been submitted and accepted the statutory process has commenced and there will be no charge for further advice or negotiations with NE.

Sue Beale – December 2016

The Committee agreed that BASC and wildfowlers should work with NE towards a better consenting process.

  1. Wildfowling operational plan

MG gave a presentation on the work the wildfowling team does which is the result of the operational plan.

There was some discussion about a number of matters including:

BASC has arranged to take some MPs and local NE officers out wildfowling.  Some clubs take MPs out independently of BASC.  It is important that they see what wildfowling is all about as they are decision makers. Workshops for local NE officers are also a very good idea and the Committee supported this work.

AMacD stated that BASC Scotland looked after the wildfowlers very well and there was little need for input from the HO wildfowling team.

The way NE assess wildfowling was discussed and it was noted that visit numbers was a better measure of the activity than shots fired or birds taken.

The Committee recognized the importance of clubs helping with WeBS counts.  It is important to record other disturbance and keep a record of these activities. Collect evidence of all activities throughout the year.

In terms of club growth, running a ‘Help for Heroes day’ has produced good publicity and resulted in more members.

The WLC endorsed the forward plan and agreed that the team is doing the right things.

The WLC requested that the presentation is posted on the website.

Action Point 1:  MG

  1. Details of the 2017 Wildfowling Conference.

Feedback from the conference this year was once again good. Looking at all categories 33% of people said it was very good, 47% said it was good, 11% said it was average, 3% poor and 4% very poor. The majority of negative comments were associated with NE’s presentation and the way the speaker was treated during questions.

There was a request that BASC’s Chairman give an update on the recent meeting with wildfowlers and progress being made with NE. It was noted that this may not be necessary if Sue Beale indicates NE are open to change and progress with NE is positive.

Action point 2:  JD

The committee supported the wildfowling conference agenda.

  1. Second PhD funded by BASC

Our first PhD has been a fantastic success. It has changed the way AEWA views disturbance and is beginning to lead to a change in the way NE assess the risks from disturbance when reviewing wildfowling consents. One of the main limitations of the first PhD was that it was limited to one site. The second PhD is designed to look at producing a simple tool that can be used to assess the impacts of disturbance at any site. The PhD will start in January.

  1. Proposal to re-structure the WLC

This item came about following the recent meeting at BASC’s head office with representatives from the Humber and other wildfowlers who were concerned that NE consenting arrangements mean there is no future for wildfowling in England. During the meeting the group expressed their feelings that BASC was not following the wildfowling policy. The experiences of the Humber clubs with NE were discussed extensively.

There were discussions about consents and appealing against conditions in consents, BASC’s position on the likelihood of winning such appeals, and why BASC Council has a duty to protect the interests of the majority of wildfowlers.

Other subjects discussed included the BASC – NE relationship, with suggestions BASC was working too closely with NE and not taking hard enough lines.

Other matters raised were: coastal access, greylag geese, Marine Conservation Zones and online bag recording.

All the items discussed have been discussed at previous WLC meetings.

The wildfowlers attending the meeting were generally pleased to have the opportunity to voice their concerns.

In addition to the above, during the head office meeting there was a discussion on communication with wildfowling clubs – MG had given a presentation very similar to the one given to the WLC. Despite recognising the good work being done by the team, those present felt they wanted more detail about key matters when they arose. BASC pointed out that despite key matters being discussed at the WLC, some members did not provide feedback to local wildfowlers. This lead to a request that the structure of the WLC be reviewed at this meeting.

The two suggestions for improvement were:

  1. Make sure Wildfowling Joint Councils are catered for on the WLC.
  1. Consider holding an extended WLC meeting on the Friday afternoon before the wildfowling conference.

With regards to Wildfowling Joint Councils, there are only two not represented on the WLC:

The South Wales Joint Council – Mike Sherman confirmed that during his 10 years on Council he had kept in contact with this group. The Committee felt that if necessary an appropriate representative could be asked to join.

The other Joint Council not represented is Strangford Lough. The Committee was informed that as in Scotland, the Country Office provided significant local support to wildfowlers in Northern Ireland.

The people that sit on the WLC and whose clubs are included in Joint Councils can make sure their region know there has been a WLC meeting. If there are questions, they can direct members to the Wildfowling team or to the WLC minutes which are posted on our website.

The Committee noted it was also important to make sure that the WLC includes wildfowling representation outside joint councils, representation is needed in the north east, Norfolk and the Broads, and from the Thames round to the Solent, the south west and south west Wales.

The Committee recognised the good work being done in Scotland and Northern Ireland by local BASC staff and felt that given numbers of wildfowlers in those areas representation was adequate. There was a suggestion that the WLC should consider getting representation from the Solway area. The Committee were told that approaches had recently been made for a representative from that area but little interest had been shown.

Following discussion the WLC endorsed the current structure of the WLC

With regards to a WLC on Friday afternoon before the conference, a room has been booked from 1500 to 1700.

There was a question about the role of the WLC. Lee Freeston explained that the purpose of the WLC is that of an advisory committee, providing advice to Council.  Specific requests for advice can come from Council, and the WLC can also make suggestions to Council on various matters. However, it is BASC Council that makes decisions and WLC advice can be ignored.

There was a further discussion about the contribution from Sue Beale and the Committee agreed the proposed review looked as though it would result in a positive outcome for wildfowling consents in England.

There was a request that Ken Arkley be asked to join the WLC because of his knowledge of the consenting process. It was noted that there was considerable knowledge about the consenting process in the Committee already, and that there would be an opportunity for Ken to engage in the NE consultation.

  1. Crown bag recording system – progress report

MG informed the Committee that the wildfowling team had liaised closely with wildfowling clubs that have Crown leases. Most clubs have identified Online Bag Returns Officers and are planning to use the new system.

The Committee were reminded that completing Crown returns was a condition of a lease and that some non-affiliated clubs had asked BASC to carry out the necessary bag data inputting and analysis for them in the past. It was usual practice for BASC to charge for this, as inputting all the data is time consuming and inefficient.

The Committee were asked to provide advice on whether BASC should charge clubs in this situation.

The committee agreed that in the first year BASC should support clubs with the change and that would include completing paper returns if necessary. However, they also agreed that clubs should be charged, provided they had been told this would happen if they failed to use the new system.

  1. Is there a need for another BASC film on traditional wildfowling and if so what should it include?

This suggestion came from the meeting with the Humber and other wildfowlers at BASC head office. BASC already has two films, An Introduction to Wildfowling and Pink-footed geese and the Wyre/Lune Sanctuary. A link to these films is included in all notices for consents and management plans.

The Humber wildfowlers felt that BASC should produce a film to cover:

The fundamentals of wildfowling in the context of its relationship to the environment, habitat, flora and fauna, comparing and contrasting with other activities etc. With particular emphasis on addressing issues that are of concern to NE in carrying out the consenting process, eg disturbance and direct take etc.

The Committee recognized that a film of this scope would be a massive undertaking and that everything BASC is doing covers the areas suggested. The committee decided no film was needed.

  1. Rice breast update

The Committee received an update:

Sarcocystosis, or ‘rice breast’ disease of ducks, is caused by a parasite and seems to be on the rise in the UK. The parasite has a relatively complex life cycle using birds as an intermediate host and carnivores as the end host. Within birds in later stages of infection the parasite creates cysts throughout the muscles, in particular the breast and leg, which look like grains of rice.

Sarcocystis in birds is not thought to pose a risk to human health as cooking kills all stages of the parasite. However, it is not recommended to eat infected birds, nor to feed them to dogs.

The Committee were told about the online survey for rice-breast. The Committee asked for this to be added to the BASC website and whether it was possible then add a page on rice breast to the wildfowling pages?

See: http://www.sarcocystissurvey.org.uk/

Action point 3:  TR

  1. Duck Ringing Scheme

This subject was discussed in the October 2014 WLC where the minutes record:

The scheme is only used by a few ringers, and very little information is produced – between 2001 and 2011 ……….. approximately 170 rings were recorded and reported to ringers. Concerns were raised by the committee that by continuing this scheme BASC were encouraging people to ring ducks without formal training. Animal welfare had to be a priority given the recent communication from a BTO ringer who had found some badly rung birds.

The committee agreed that the current scheme is no longer appropriate and should stop. They also thought that a better approach would be to work with the BTO.

The Committee asked MS and TR to see whether anything could be arranged with the BTO.

MS and TR liaised extensively with BTO staff to find ways to make this a practical scheme that members could work with. That has not been possible and given the previous discussions thought it best to bring this back to the WLC to confirm we should now stop the scheme.

The Committee agreed that BASC should write to the few active ringers saying that no more rings will be sent out and urge members not to use any remaining stock they have. The letter should make it clear that BASC will continue to report on any rings returned.

The WLC agreed with this action.

Action point 4:  TR

  1. Sunday shooting

During discussions about the Law Commission’s review of wildlife legislation BASC Council agreed to try and get Sunday wildfowling orders overturned. The Law Commissions proposals are not being taken forward. Given the Brexit vote it seems likely that discussions about wildlife legislation will be opened again. The Committee were asked if they continued to support BASC trying to overturn these orders.

Prior to the meeting Richard Playle, Graham Downing and Kenn Ball had confirmed that they supported over turning these orders. The WLC agreed that they still want BASC to try and overturn Sunday Wildfowling orders.

Action point 5:  TR

  1. Any other business

16.1     MG will speak to the editor of S&C with a view to including more wildfowling stories.

Action point 6: MG

16.2     The WHT is now open for business but there are a couple of loans in the pipeline that may change the situation.

BRITISH ASSOCIATION FOR SHOOTING AND CONSERVATION

Recommendations to Council
The Committee recommended that Council support the 2016 budget bid for further research into disturbance and wildfowling.

Meeting held on Saturday 10 October 2015

At The Ramada Hotel, Penns Lane, Walmley, Sutton Coldfield, B76 1LH

 

MINUTES

Present:

  • John Dryden – Chairman (JD)
  • Tim Russell – Secretary (TR)
  • Janette Lowrie – Minute Secretary (JL)
  • Matt Ellis (ME)
  • Mike Sherman (MS)
  • Richard Playle (RP)
  • Lee Freeston (LF)
  • Graham Crompton Howe (GCH)
  • Tom McGoldrick (TMcG)
  • Kenn Ball (KB)
  • Paul Evans (PE)
  • Peter Nichols (PN)
  • Alan Musselwhite (AM)
  • Emrys Heard (EH)

 

1. Apologies

Apologies were received from Richard Ali, Alan Jarrett, Mark Greenhough, Graham Downing, Paul Culley and Richard Dicks.

 

2. Declaration of interests

No declarations of interests were made.

 

3. Minutes of the last meeting held on 11 October 2014

The minutes were approved and signed as a true record.

 

4. Matters arising

AP1- Duck Ringing Scheme (to be covered under agenda item 9)

There was a recommendation to Council that provision be made in the 2016 budget to do a further PhD study, building on the work Catherine Collup is doing. A bid has been submitted as part of the budget process.

 

5. Regional roundup

Committee members gave a summary of the season so far in their area.

 

6. Wildfowling forward plan (Confidential)

Copies of the plan were distributed at the meeting for the committee to review and collected at the end of this confidential item. The committee supported the plan and reinforced the budget bid for the disturbance study.

MS will propose to Council that an email address is set up similar to the Council one, WLC@BASC.org.uk so that BASC members can contact the committee directly with any issues. If approved, this can be promoted through S&C and the wildfowling fast track. Enquiries would be sent to Brendan who would forward them to TR and JD.

Action Point 1: MS

 

JD and MS to work together to publicise the WLC to the wider membership.

Action Point 2: JD/MS

 

7. Crown bag recording system

On 8 January BASC wrote to members of the WLC explaining that an online bag recording system was being developed, to replace the current paper based system which is outdated and time consuming for both club members and BASC staff. The responses from the WLC were mixed, some very positive, some less so. There was one common message, to keep it simple.

BASC is working with the developers and we are still in the early stages of development. The Secretary gave the Committee a demonstration of the system that is being developed and the committee were very supportive of the progress that had been made.

BASC propose trialling with a maximum of 4 clubs in the spring of 2016 and would welcome WLC suggestions as to which clubs would be most appropriate to approach.

Ideally, the clubs would be located strategically across the UK, and could be involved with helping to rollout to other clubs in their area.

The Secretary also asked for two people to be involved to help design the new system. AM would be willing to get involved in supporting the build. It was suggested that BASC also ask Nick Powell (DWA) to provide help and also to be involved in testing the new system when complete.

TR to check that a nil return is covered by the system.

Action Point 3: TR

 

Secretaries note: The new system will allow members to submit a nil return.

TR to find out how the new system would work with permit schemes, especially at Lindisfarne and the Dyfi. KB offered his club’s support for the early stages of the Lindisfarne permit before an administration officer is appointed.

Action Point 4: TR

 

It was confirmed that in the first instance this system was for Crown Estate leases. However BASC recognises that clubs may well see benefit in using this system for other land they shoot over. BASC has already worked with a number of wildfowling clubs to map the land they shoot over and this information will also be available to club administrators when they log on to the system. Club administrators can then decide whether or not it is a current area of interest to the club and whether all members of their club are allowed to see these areas when they log in.

It was confirmed that it would only be the club nominated administrator who could look at the Club’s overall data. BASC will be able to see all the data for both Crown and non-Crown land. However, there will be limits on what data BASC can use and these will be set out clearly in the terms and conditions. BASC will not use any data without relevant permission. Similar restrictions are in place for the way we use wildlife records supplied as part of the Green Shoots mapping programme and the current wildfowling returns system operated by BASC for Crown Estate foreshore and other sites.

It was proposed by MS and seconded by GHC that this scheme be supported.

The committee voted and everybody was in support of the new system except for PE who abstained, just in case there was some background information in his club that he was not aware of in relation to their Crown lease being managed by the Crown Rural team.

PE suggested that Trevor Amos, Gedney Drove End and District WA be contacted to pilot the scheme.

Action Point 5: TR

PN will discuss at the next Lancashire wildfowling forum meeting for clubs to pilot the scheme.

Action Point 6: PN

RP will discuss at the next EJC meeting in December and ask for clubs to pilot the scheme. RP is also interested in his own club joining the pilot scheme.

Action Point 7: RP

It was suggested to involve Oliver McCullough and Tommy Mayne to feed in their thoughts about the scheme.

Action Point 8: TR

LF distributed to the meeting a Chichester WA proposed booking in system – high level design specification. Any comments on this to be emailed to LF.

Action Point 9: All

 

8. Wildfowling Consents

At the Wildfowling Conference Mike Smith and Richard Ali spoke about the Partnership Agreement we have signed with Natural England. One of the work areas identified was to:

Work with Natural England to improve the service associated with the issuing of consents to BASC’s wildfowling clubs. Particular emphasis to be placed on ensuring that the reasons for any terms and conditions of consents are transparent, evidence based and proportionate to the activities taken by wildfowling clubs.

BASC and Natural England to promote opportunities for staff interchanges and local wildfowling visits to increase the respective understanding of both wildfowling and consenting remit and processes.

BASC will be meeting with NE to discuss their guidance on consenting wildfowling on 6 November. Lee Freeston will be joining the meeting as he has been involved in similar meetings before. Lee also attended the symposium BASC ran on the disturbance study in Poole Harbour earlier this year. One of the key provisional findings from that study is that there is 184 times more disturbance potential from pedestrians than wildfowling.

The Committee recognised the value of this research and the need for the further research outlined in the operational plan.

 

Recommendation

The Committee recommended that Council support the 2016 budget bid for further research into disturbance and wildfowling.

BASC staff have also been organising wildfowling trips for NE staff with clubs in their region. This is very important work because there is little understanding about what wildfowling is and how it is done.

Arrangements are being progressed for five members of NE staff and three members of Crown Estate staff to experience accompanied wildfowling visits this season hosted by Kent Wildfowlers, Chichester Wildfowlers, Clevedon Wildfowlers and Rockland Wildfowlers. Skegness and Wainfleet Wildfowlers have also offered to host a visit, and we are in the process of identifying an appropriate member of NE staff.

The Secretary asked for any further clubs who would like to volunteer. Fenland, Humber and Lytham put their names forward.

Action Point 10: TR

 

9. Duck Ringing Scheme

Following the last meeting, BASC met with the BTO in London to discuss them taking on the scheme. The WLC had agreed that the current system should stop.

The BTO have been slow to respond to repeated requests for their views. The BTO have their own advisory meeting in a few days where they are going to consult further. Their initial thoughts are:

  • They could only do this by getting BASC ringers into their system.
  • The system is that you have to start as a trainee, with a trainer, then train until you can work without direct supervision (C permit) and then further until you can work on your own responsibility and have rings in your own name.
  • BASC ringers should already have the requisite skills for what they want to do, so wouldn’t expect this to take long
  • They would also need to learn to complete BTO paperwork (which is largely electronic)
  • BTO would need to find trainers in their area for each BASC ringer and arrange for sessions together.
  • There is usually a minimum period as a trainee, but that would not apply in this case.
  • An alternative would be for someone who is part of BASC and is a trainer to take them all on and train them.
  • As part of the latter scenario, it might be possible to arrange a training day somewhere to help with fast-tracking.

Assuming the BTO is happy to proceed, the committee was asked for its views.

Following discussion PE proposed that the committee delegated authority to MS to work with TR to agree a letter to send to clubs for ringers to work with the BTO.

This was seconded by JD and the committee voted in favour of this suggestion

Action Point 11: TR/MS

 

10. Wildfowling Conference

Date is 12 March 2016 at the Ramada Hotel, Sutton Coldfield.

Feedback from the last conference shows we have got the right venue and balance of talks.

The following items are suggestions for next year’s conference:

  • Crown bag recording system
  • Tides – Pete Fox, EA
  • NE guidance on consents
  • Risks and opportunities from climate change (based on the paper that went to Council in September)
  • AEWA report on MOP 6 this autumn
  • Update on what we have done and findings following Mark’s talk last year about club recruitment and retention
  • Ely Wildfowlers their Land Purchase and Land management strategies
  • Law Commission review (should be published in October) – more practical talk on what it will mean for shooting

If the agenda allows the following topic may be added:

· NE knowledge on the High level Stewardships (HLS) – Alan McDonald offered this last year

11. Pochard

Birdlife have recommended to the IUCN to up list common pochard in the Red List from Least Concern to Near Threatened. This recommendation is based on historic declines in wintering and breeding populations across the flyway. If IUCN accept the recommendation then pochard will be the only quarry species to not be listed as Least Concern. This could well lead to calls for their removal from the quarry list, or at least to calls for a voluntary moratorium.

The Committee discussed this matter and noted that pochard are not commonly seen on the coast and are associated more with deeper water and lakes.

Sightings of sarcocystis disease – JL will email the committee the contact details if they wish to help.

Action Point 12: JL

 

12. Any Other Business

12.1 Sale of geese and Sunday shooting

A member in south Wales emailed BASC saying they have a problem with Canada geese asking for support to sell them. Also to support a change in the local laws so they could be shot on Sundays.

The committee unanimously agreed that there should be no change to the current legislation and that Canada geese should be dealt with under the general licence.

12.2 The retention of firearms/shotgun certificate data by clubs and syndicates

It was agreed that BASC would write to clubs with advice on how to deal with this.

Action Point 13: TR

12.3 The dates for the 2016 WLC meetings were set for 16 April and 8 October. If there is insufficient content on the agenda, the meeting will not go ahead.

12.4 Severe weather – going forward BASC will be informing wildfowlers by information on the website, Fastrack and email.

BRITISH ASSOCIATION FOR SHOOTING AND CONSERVATION

Wildfowling Liaison Committee

Meeting held on Saturday 11 October 2014

At The Ramada Hotel, Penns Lane, Walmley, Sutton Coldfield, B76 1LH

Present:        

  • Lee Freeston – Chairman (LF)
  • Tim Russell – Secretary (TR)
  • Janette Lowrie – Minute Secretary
  • Richard Dicks (RD)
  • Mike Sherman (MS)
  • John Dryden (JD)
  • Richard Playle (RP)
  • Allan Musselwhite (AM)
  • Paul Evans (PE)
  • Alan Jarrett (AJ)

 

1. Apologies

Apologies were received from Richard Ali, John Graham, Pete Nichols, Graham Downing, Mark Greenhough, Tom McGoldrick, Allan MacDonald, Peter Welberry-Smith, Emrys Heard, Paul Culley, Graham Crompton-Howe and Ken Ball.

 

2. Declaration of interests

No declaration of interests were made.

 

3. Minutes of the last meeting held on 15 March 2014

The minutes were approved and signed as a true record.

 

4. Matters arising

Natural England consultation on general and class licences

AP1 -The Chairman was mindful that there were committee members absent from the meeting.  It was agreed that the committee would consult with clubs and joint councils and send their comments to Conor O’Gorman.  The Game and Gamekeeping committee would also be consulted – completed.

AP2 – Lee Freeston, Richard Ali and Tim Russell will consider all the comments before deciding on a way forward – completed.

 

5. Duck Ringing Scheme

The committee discussed the scheme which BASC has administered for many years. The scheme is only used by a few ringers, and very little information is produced – between 2001 and 2011 there were 8,250 rings issued and approximately 170 rings recorded and reported to ringers. Concerns were raised by the committee that by continuing this scheme BASC were encouraging people to ring ducks without formal training. Animal welfare had to be a priority given the recent communication from a BTO ringer who had found some badly rung birds.

The committee agreed that the current scheme is no longer appropriate and should stop. They also thought that a better approach would be to work with the BTO. This would then provide the opportunity to ring other birds and record this information not only with the BTO, but also with BASC through the Green Shoots mapping project. This would provide further evidence of the conservation work carried out by people that shoot.

Action Point 1:  TR

 

6. Wildfowling Conference

To be held on 28 March 2015 at the Ramada Hotel, Sutton Coldfield.

Feedback from 2014 conference was good.  56 delegate feedback forms were completed. The consensus was that we have a good venue.

The committee agreed that the draft agenda for the next conference was good.

There was a request made to allow time to discuss anything of a critical nature towards the end of the conference. It was agreed that with increased communication between clubs and BASC this should be unlikely, but if time was needed the organiser and conference chairman would see what could be done.

 

7. Wildfowling operational plan

The operational plan was reviewed and the committee recognised the good work being done.

The chairman endorsed the work on disturbance following his meeting with Natural England regarding consents on the Humber. He said it is clear that disturbance is poorly understood and better evidence is needed.

The chairman asked the committee to endorse a recommendation to Council that provision is made in the 2016 budget to do a further PhD study, building on the work Catherine Collup is doing, to show how the work in Poole could be applied to other estuaries. The committee endorsed the chairman’s suggestion.

 

Recommendation to Council

That provision is made in the 2016 budget to extend PhD research into wildfowling and disturbance to show how the work in Poole could be applied to other estuaries.

 

8. Natural England consultation on general licences

The secretary advised the committee that he had been asked to write a paper for Council, reviewing the way BASC had handled the Natural England consultation on general licences. The decision Council took had been made difficult because some wildfowlers did not want greylag geese and mallard putting on the general licence, whilst game and pigeon shooters recognised the importance of farmers and land managers being able to control pests easily.

The paper identified that whilst some improvements to the system could be made BASC had made a decision in line with the comments we received and the position of other shooting and land management organisations.

 

9. Any other business

 

9.1 Humber WF clubs and consents

The chairman briefed the committee on his trip to the Humber and discussions with Natural England and wildfowling clubs regarding consents. He reiterated the need for evidence regarding disturbance caused by wildfowling. The committee recommended that the clubs and BASC work together with natural England in negotiating acceptable terms for the consents.

Recommendations to Council

Minute reference

Page number

 

Recommendation to Council

That provision is made in the 2016 budget to extend PhD research into wildfowling and disturbance to show how the work in Poole could be applied to other estuaries.

7

3

Matters regarding wildfowling are primarily handled by the Conservation & Land Management Team and the Research Team. However, because of the importance of wildfowling, it has its own Committee to provide advise to the teams and to discuss current issues. The Committee meets twice a year and is able to propose recommendations to Council.

 

BRITISH ASSOCIATION FOR SHOOTING AND CONSERVATION

Wildfowling Liaison Committee

Meeting held on Saturday 15 March 2014

At The Ramada Hotel, Penns Lane, Walmley, Sutton Coldfield, B76 1LH

 

Present: 

  • Lee Freeston – Chairman
  • Tim Russell – Secretary
  • Janette Lowrie – Minute Secretary
  • Richard Ali
  • Mark Greenhough
  • John Harradine
  • John Dryden
  • Mike Sherman
  • Richard Playle
  • John Graham
  • Kenn Ball
  • Tom McGoldrick
  • Peter Nichols
  • Paul Culley

 

1. Apologies

Apologies were received from Emrys Heard, Richard Dicks, Graham Downing, David de Gernier, Paul Evans, Graham Crompton Howe, Alan Jarrett, Peter Welbury-Smith and Alan McDonald.

 

2. Declaration of interests

No declarations of interest were made.

 

3. Approval of minutes from the meeting held on 12 October 2013

The minutes were approved and signed as a true record.

 

4. Matters arising

All the actions points from the last meeting were completed.

 

5. BASC/NE partnership agreement

In September last year Richard, Martyn Howat and Tim Russell had a meeting at BASC with Dave Webster, CEO of Natural England and Poul Christensen, the then Chair at Natural England. During that meeting, they discussed a number of issues including closer working, wildfowling consents and Green Shoots. NE has a new Chair now, Andrew Sells. A meeting is planned with Dave Webster at Poole Harbour later this year to discuss amongst other things our disturbance study.

In the past much of BASC’s work with English Nature was done under the terms of a joint statement of common interests, however since NE were formed they have not entered into any agreements with other organisations. Following the meeting last year Dave Webster said he would enter into a partnership agreement with BASC. This is something BASC welcome and the Regulators’ Code will form the basis for this agreement.

The areas to include in the partnership agreement have started to be pulled together. The WLC were asked to approve the following suggestions to do with consenting wildfowling:

BASC and Natural England will review the consenting guidelines using the Regulators’ Code to ensure that:

  • the terms and conditions of consents are proportionate to the activities undertaken by wildfowling clubs

This is an important area of work, proportionality it is central to EU regulation and consents can only be improved by using the evidence – which comes next.

  • an evidence based approach is taken when determining the priority of risks and addressing priorities

This is an important area of work which has started because NE has been asked to respond to a number of planning applications. NE are starting to do a review and prioritise all recreational activities as a consequence of the increase in housing allocations within planning authority areas around estuaries, these include plans for: the Solent 82,000; North Kent Marshes 63,000; and the Exe 30,000. The majority of these coastal areas are designated as SPAs. Research has shown that the residents in these new houses will use the coast for walking their dogs, bird watching, windsurfing and other activities including wildfowling, all of which have the potential to cause disturbance to birds.

NE are using Footprint Ecology for the research and BASC know about their work and the research they have found – they also work closely with Richard Stillman. Footprint research shows that wildfowling comes well down the list of activities that cause birds to get up and fly – dog walking, walking and other activities are far more frequent. We also know that food availability is critical to whether ‘significant’ disturbance happens as Catherine Collop stated in her presentation to the conference earlier in the day. BASC will therefore push NE to accept that other forms of recreation are more damaging than wildfowling and use the Regulators’ Code to help.

  • guidance and information is provided in a clear, accessible and concise format

Clearly NE’s guidance on consenting wildfowling is not

  • opportunities are provided for Natural England staff to learn more about wildfowling

Taking NE staff out wildfowling is very important and is part of the strategy document discussed at the last meeting.

  • BASC will analyse WeBS data for Natural England as part of the appropriate assessment and provide simple guidance so that Natural England staff can do this in future

This is an important area because wildfowlers in England will know that NE officers find it difficult to understand and interpret WeBS data. We have found that there analysis is not done in a statistical way and this causes problems, resulting in delays and calls for restrictions like reduced visit numbers.

Matt Ellis in BASC’s research team has used a statistical program that allows for more accurate analysis of WeBS data. Unfortunately, the program is complex and takes time, so NE are reluctant to use it, but they recognise it provides better analysis.

The advantages for wildfowlers of BASC doing this work are that it will be a proper analysis of the data, therefore more accurate and quicker.

The disadvantages are of perception – BASC helping NE with consents – some clubs will complain about that, but probably they are the clubs that are complaining at the moment. There is also the possibility that in analysing the WeBS data correctly it demonstrates that there are significant problems for birds on a site and that shooting is part of that problem. We therefore propose to pilot this approach to see what results we get.

The committee agreed to support this partnership with NE.

 

6. The wildfowling forward work plan

There was not sufficient time to discuss this item

 

7. Any other business

 

7.1. Natural England consultation on general and class licences

The Committee discussed this consultation and proposals to add greylag geese to the general licence to prevent serious agricultural damage or disease and mallard and greylag geese to the general licence for the purpose of preserving public health and safety.

These proposals are causing some concern amongst wildfowlers but it is important that the WLC looks at these proposals objectively.

The key points kept in mind when thinking about this were:

These proposals in part result from the Red Tape Challenge to cut bureaucracy. If we want NE to be less bureaucratic over consents we cannot object when they want to reduce bureaucracy around licences to control wildlife.

We know that pigeons damage crops and value the shooting opportunity this provides. It would be difficult to be seen as credible if we say we do not care about the damage to crops caused by greylag geese. In addition, by not supporting farmers we run the risk of damaging relations with farmers, the people we depend on to provide the majority of our shooting.

The short-term trend for breeding greylag geese shows an increase of 179%, no long-term data exists. Population estimate is 92,000.

The short-term trend for breeding mallard shows an increase of 20% and a long-term increase of 99%. Population estimate is 200,000.

By comparison, Canada geese have a short-term increase of 73%, no long term data exists. Population estimate 114,000

Canada geese were put on the general licence in England in 2005 and Wales in 2011 and since then the population has continued to increase. Wildfowling returns for Crown estate land on the Mersey, Dee, Dyfi, Ribble and Ouse Washes (five areas shot over with the largest Canada goose populations) show a steady increase in numbers of Canada’s shot.

The Chairman was mindful that there were committee members absent from the meeting. It was agreed that the committee would consult with clubs and joint councils and send their comments to Conor O’Gorman. The Game and Gamekeeping committee would also be consulted.

 

Action Point 1: WLC Committee

Lee Freeston, Richard Ali and Tim Russell will consider all the comments before deciding on a way forward.

 

Action Point 2: Lee Freeston/Richard Ali/Tim Russell

 

8. Date of next meeting

No date was set for the next meeting



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