Those with coastal sporting rights in England will have no status during Natural England?s consultation process on the controversial Marine and Coastal Access Bill.

Pro-shooting organisations have recently held a series of meetings with the government to clarify certain parts of the bill in a bid to safeguard the rights of wildfowlers and other shooters.

Currently, those with ?an interest in land? are allowed to appeal decisions on proposed coastal access areas.

This includes landowners, leaseholders and those in lawful occupation of the land such as farmers with grazing rights.

The government has confirmed to the Countryside Alliance that this definition does not include holders of sporting rights, however.

The Alliance?s James Legge explained: ?In practical terms, this means that wildfowling clubs that hold sporting rights over land that they do not own will not have proper statutory recognition when the coastal access routes and associated ?spreading room? are defined.?

Mr Legge added that The Crown Estate alone currently grants 59 leases covering more than 700km of foreshore.

None of those lessees, or the hundreds of other clubs and shoots that lease or own sporting rights, will have full statutory rights in the process of reclassification of the coastal land they shoot over.

They would only have the right to appeal against the imposition, or the failure to impose, any restrictions or exclusions.

?As it stands, the bill would allow Natural England to allocate a significant part of a marsh or shoot for public access without necessarily consulting the holder of sporting rights,? said Mr Legge.

Government assurances about a general right of appeal for closures and restrictions are not good enough, according to the Countryside Alliance.

?Owners of sporting rights have a valid interest in the designation and management of coastal access land,? said Mr Legge.

?The government needs to recognise this in the bill. The way to do that is to include sporting rights in the definition of ?relevant interest in affected land?.?

The Country Land & Business Association?s national access adviser, Sarah Slade, said: ?It seems absurd that a person who a landowner allows to come on to his or her land to graze a flock for what could be only a few days at a time should have the right of appeal when a person who holds a formal grant of sporting rights in perpetuity does not.?

Mrs Slade added the measures do not go far enough: ?We are pleased DEFRA has conceded on the right of appeal, but we feel that it only got halfway there in not allowing a full right of appeal to those with a legal estate or interest in the land.?

Wildfowlers are concerned the bill could affect the future of the sport in certain areas of England.

Graham Downing is secretary of the Alde & Ore Wildfowlers Association, which has a lease over Crown foreshore on the River Alde, in Suffolk.

He said: ?This is a matter of real concern. I am amazed shooters are being treated as second-class citizens. How can someone with grazing rights be given higher status than a wildfowling club with a formal long-term lease??

Let us know what you think about this!

  • brian garnett

    The well healed set who run BASC are not bothered about wildfowlers and wildfowling,they proved that when they highjacked WAGBI.

  • james griffin

    Are we going to be putting up signs in the dark in order to warn walkers that shooting is taking place ?

  • Paul Mallen

    Is there a deliberate policy at Shooting Times to marginalise Wildfowlers and Wildfowling? by firstly ignoring, for weeks, news of the recent formation of the East of Scotland Association for Wildfowling and Conservation… not bothering to seek..and if they did? print comment from BASC on this apparant attempt by the Government to ride roughshod over the interests of Wildfowlers.

    It appears there is!

    I look forward to your response.

  • Adam Mair

    Can you tell me what was the BASC comment on this?

  • Andy Chdwick

    I will be interested to know if BASC have had any response to this!!!!!

  • Jim Allan

    Can you please tell me what BASC had to say about wildfowlers might be denied right to appeal against coastal access bill, jim.

  • Lee Freeston

    No comment from BASC. I find the fact that shooting times decided not to publish BASC’s comments rather sad. For many years in the last century the shooting Times was seen by the wildfowling community as its first and only point of call for the dissemination of important information from the Wildfowlers of Association of Great Britain and Ireland and then BASC.Traditional wildfowlers today still look to the shooting times to provide detailed and balanced reports. Alistair can you please explain why you did not use BASCs comments?

  • David de Gernier

    Could you tell me what BASC’s response to this issue wa? You do not seem to have printed what they had to say. I am sure that they would have given a response. Assuming they were asked that is.

    Many thanks