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BASC fights back against Defra move that could spell the end for shoots across Britain

BASC has announced a decision to prepare legal proceedings against Defra over withdrawal of general licence GL43

The NRW consultation will look at gamebird releasing in Wales

BASC is instructing lawyers to begin the process of seeking permission from the High Court to bring a Judicial Review of Defra’s decision to withdraw general licence GL43.

Defra was supposed to have introduced a variation of the general licence in line with European statutes barring the release of any near game birds near conservation areas.

On May 30, the previous general licence expired, making it illegal to release gamebirds without applying and securing an individual licence, but the anticipated new licence has yet to be introduced.

Defra commented: “Based on Natural England’s 2023 advice, Defra have made the decision not to include releases of gamebirds on sites which are designated as SPAs or within 500m of the boundaries of SPAs from the scope of GL43 for the 2023 and 2024 gamebird release seasons.”

BASC says Defra’s  actions have threatened jobs and business at a critical point in the rural calendar. The shooting organisation has urged Defra to immediately reinstate GL43 so that clarity and reassurance is given to shoot managers who need to release birds in the weeks ahead. (Read Defra’s decision will cripple rural England, says BASC.)

BASC chief executive Ian Bell said: “BASC has been working for days behind the scenes to highlight the chaos that has been caused by Defra’s original decision to withdraw GL43 without any notice or consultation with the shooting community.

“We are clear that Defra has thrown shooting into turmoil at a critical time in the rural year and has threatened jobs and businesses. The key government department that is supposed to protect the best interests of rural Britain has shown a significant lack of understanding and empathy. That must not go without substantial challenge.

“But we also want the High Court to make clear that the Defra decision was unlawful in so far that it was reached without clear evidence or due consultation with the shooting community.

“We believe the High Court review is necessary to ensure that Defra’s processes are changed for the future and proper engagement with the rural community takes place before any significant changes are introduced.”