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Consultation on Welsh gamebird release closes

The shooting community came together thanks to BASC’s Act Now campaign, resulting in 42,000 responses to the proposals on licensing

The consultation was regarding licensing the release of gamebirds in Wales

On 20 June, a 12-week consultation closed on proposals to introduce a licensing system for the release of pheasants and red-legged partridge in Wales. The proposals were issued by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) on behalf of the Welsh government. Many believed that the proposals were a thinly veiled attack on shooting in Wales, particularly after Julie James MS, the minister for climate change, suggested in front of a parliamentary hearing that “shooting for pleasure has no place within a civilised society”.

Thanks in part to the Act Now campaign coordinated by BASC, the consultation process has received 42,000 responses. Conor O’Gorman, BASC’s head of policy and campaigns, said: “I think they expected a meek response from the shooting community. Firstly, they were counting on our collective apathy towards responding to Government consultations. Secondly, the proposals and survey questions were confusing and ambiguous — cloaking a de facto plan to ban gamebird releasing in Wales.”

It remains to be seen whether the large number of responses will put NRW off licensing or just make the process slower, but BASC already has plans for a next stage, if it comes to it.

“Drawing on our in-house expertise and, having had the consultation reviewed externally by lawyers, we believe there are strong grounds to legally challenge the licensing proposals should the Welsh government ignore the results and plough on regardless,” Conor suggested. “Namely, we believe that the licensing proposals are unlawful as they interfere disproportionately with landowners’ right to land and are in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. This is due to the fact that there is no appeal mechanism for decision making on licensing applications.”