Nature reserves to remain state-owned.

BASC has welcomed a Government statement that National Nature Reserves (NNRs) will remain in public ownership, despite DEFRA officials ?scoping a range of options?.

Wildfowling takes place on a number of NNRs, including iconic sites such as Lindisfarne.

Part of the Wash is also an NNR, with local clubs providing voluntary wardens.

Mark Greenhough, wildfowling officer at BASC, said: ?The current arrangement of wildfowling on NNRs seems to work well, so a continuation of current permit schemes would be a good thing for wildfowlers.?

?The alternative would be for NNRs to be released from public ownership. If that happened, we don?t know whose hands they would end up in ? it could pose problems if the wrong people took them over.?

The media accused the Government of a U-turn following the outcry against plans to sell Forestry Commission land.

However, despite admitting to talks with Natural England, the quango that looks after many NNRs, DEFRA remained defiant.

A spokesman said: ?There is no consultation paper on the ownership of the NNRs, and there will not be. We look forward to continuing to work closely with our non-governmental organisations, to tap into their expertise to make sure our NNRs are looked after in the best possible way.?

BASC told Shooting Times magazine that it had never had plans to manage NNRs, but that it had held talks with Natural England to discuss options for management in the event of a sell-off.

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