A shooting syndicate on National Trust land in Surrey has reacted angrily to confirmation that its sport will be banned for fear of disturbing visitors.
Members of the syndicate at Polesden Lacey, near Dorking, were told earlier in the season that their lease would be terminated, but had hoped for a change of heart after a feature in Shooting Times magazine revealed the Trust was looking for ?potential solutions?.
The shoot?s former captain and leaseholder, Andrew Courtney, said: ?Eternal shame on the National Trust for closing a small, safe and traditional game shoot that has existed for generations without causing any inconvenience to anybody.?
?We have lost a shoot and a way of life because of the Trust?s lack of interest in the estate and traditions which it is entrusted to preserve.?
The Trust says that the continuation of the shoot is incompatible with the ?quiet enjoyment of visitors?, but that it will allow shoot members to continue using its barn as a meeting place.
Director of conservation Peter Nixon said how the Trust had looked for the ?potential solutions? that he had mentioned to the magazine back in November.
He said: ?The regional director felt it would be helpful to have an external perspective taken by somebody who was completely unconnected with the property, but who had experience of visitor management and an understanding of shooting.?
?The result of this independent review was unequivocal ? if we want to increase access to that part of the world, it is right not to continue with the shoot.?
?It?s nothing to do with the Trust having an anti-shooting position ? which it doesn?t ? it?s to do with the particular local circumstances in terms of the location of the property and the great potential for a huge number of people to visit it.?
Mr Nixon also said that he would not reveal the identity of the person who undertook the review, which was described by Andrew Courtney as a ?disingenuous attempt to support its unjustifi able decision.?
He said: ?The increase in visitors over the past 35 years, which the Trust claims is a concern, is almost wholly confined to the public areas in the warmer months and not to the shoot areas, which are far away across the valley or on land to which the public has no general access.?
?In winter, the number of people we meet on a shoot day averages at fewer than four, and no one has ever shown any signs of being inconvenienced by our activities.?
The ending of shoots at Polesden Lacey follows the recent closure of a number of other shoots on Trust land around the country, and comes just a week after the Trust threatened to close down shoots in the Peak District if the area?s birds of prey did not experience a rapid upturn in fortunes.