Hull & East Riding Wildfowlers? Association (HERWA) and the Holderness & Humber Wildfowling Association (HHWA) have lodged an appeal with the secretary of state for the environment over a decision by Natural England (NE) to impose arbitrary refuges and time limits as conditions on new wildfowling consents granted on the north bank of the Humber estuary Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

The two clubs hold land and shooting rights at various locations on the Humber?s north shore and maintain that the situation strikes at the heart of wildfowling?s future. Prior to the redesignation of the Humber estuary SSSI in 2004, the clubs did not require consent for their shooting activities on the lower Humber estuary. Despite extensive consultation with Natural England (then English Nature), the clubs finally received consent last June, which incorporated the conditions that they deemed unacceptable.

When the statutory deadline for appeal to the secretary of state approached, the two clubs were forced either to accept the new terms of the consents or to appeal NE?s decision. Reluctantly, they have decided to appeal. ?We have been repeatedly frustrated in our attempts to resolve these issues with NE. We are also fearful that NE has tried to establish a precedent that could be detrimental to the sport of wildfowling elsewhere in the UK,? noted Ken Arkley, secretary of the HERWA.

Simon Breasley, managing director of Thyme Consultants, which has helped wildfowling clubs throughout the UK on matters such as freehold land purchase, told ST: ?The clubs are currently seeking to resolve outstanding issues through formal mediation ? the appeal to the secretary of state has been put into abeyance to allow this process the greatest possible chance of success. We are hopeful that a full appeal can be avoided, but we need to be mindful that an appeal may be the only route available to the clubs if mediation fails.?