Thousands of game rearers and shoots diligently joined the poultry register in early 2006 to help combat bird flu despite fears over the security of their details; now the changes being proposed by DEFRA include the use of personal data to: plan welfare inspections; check compliance with single farm payment scheme management requirements; organise unsolicited junk mailings from commercial companies; release data to bodies such as Natural England and the Environment Agency, and, most significantly, disclose personal data to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

“We fully recognise the need to balance the benefits for disease control, reduce bureaucracy and costs to poultry keepers against the need to safeguard privacy and the need to keep personal data secure,” a DEFRA spokesperson told ST. “Whatever decisions are taken as a result of the consultation, the security of personal data will continue to be our priority. The GB Poultry Register is an extremely valuable resource and it has been a huge success so far. During the bird flu outbreak in February of this year, the register allowed us to contact all poultry keepers in the local area instantly, including by text message, which kept them all fully up to date. The register is extremely important and we believe it has greater potential to help us prevent and control diseases and communicate more efficiently with poultry keepers, which is why we are seeking the views on some possible options for the future.”

The rest of this article appears in 6 December issue of Shooting Times.

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