BASC has pledged to defend the interests of shooters, after controversial Government plans to sell off all Forestry Commission land in England to developers, charities and power companies gathered pace last week, reports Will Finch.

The 300 leases, which are currently held for sporting rights on Forestry Commission land, cover an estimated 45,000 hectares, and BASC said that any sale of commission land ?could directly affect shooting?.

Writing in the new issue of Shooting and Conservation, BASC said that many of its members hold deerstalking and gameshooting leases from the Forestry Commission, and it pledges to not only defend members with shooting tenancies or consents but also to seek to maximise the opportunities for shooting that a reorganisation may offer.

A BASC spokesman told Shooting Times: ?A lot of shooting interests are tied up in Forestry Commission land. BASC is monitoring closely the proposals for land sell-offs and will seek to give advice to members and to protect shooting interests where necessary.?

The Coalition proposals are included in the Public Bodies Bill, which will be debated in the Lords later this year. Agriculture minister Jim Paice is on record as saying that ?it is nonsense to believe that the huge public benefits can only somehow be achieved under State ownership.? In an open letter to MPs in October, DEFRA said that, Full measures will remain in place to preserve the public benefits of woods and forests under any new ownership.

The rest of this article appears in 19th January issue of Shooting Times.

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