DEFRA has refused to recognise the legal status of sporting rights’ holders under the provisions of the Marine and Coastal Access Bill, and has instead offered a weak assurance that letters airing shooters’ grievances will be read by the secretary of state for the marine and natural environment.

The Countryside Alliance (CA), Country Land & Business Association (CLA), BASC and the Angling Trust attended a meeting with secretary of state Huw Irranca-Davies, on 7 September, to seek assurances that sporting rights holders would have the same right of appeal and legal status as landowners under the proposed Bill.

In the Bill, the Government has tasked Natural England (NE) with creating a continuous path along the whole of England’s 2,748-mile coastline. However, in its current state, the Bill fails to acknowledge the significance of sporting rights.

At present, the appeal mechanism for landowners and tenants involves the planning inspectorate (an independent body) in deciding whether or not the landowner has been treated fairly, which can lead to a hearing or a public inquiry if necessary. Shooting groups argue that holders of sporting rights should be given the same rights of appeal.

The rest of this article appears in 16 September issue of Shooting Times.

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  • Robert B Russell

    The only surprise about the way Defra and its creature, Natural England, are treating wild-fowlers is that anyone is surprised.

    Editor Alastair Barman has no need to remind me of Labour’s 2005 manifesto pledge that it wanted “to encourage people to take up shooting and fishing, and to develop policies under which they can develop and prosper”.

    I remember reading that at the time. I also remember laughing out loud at the sheer brazenness of the lie, and laughing again at the absurd notion that anyone would believe it.

    This government is anti-shooting and anti-fieldsports; it sees country people as politically incorrect and multiculturally challenged; and it sees the countryside as a theme park in the making.

    NE cannot help but reflect and respond to these views.

    Shooters need to wake up and smell the coffee.

    The only way to protect our sport is to vote Tory, and to make damn sure that when elected, the new government cuts Defra and NE down to size, and then leaves people alone to pursue their hobbies and interests as they see fit.