The home of Shooting Times and Sporting Gun

‘Fake’ Welsh ban claims, Brexit headaches, and more – this week in fieldsports

We're bringing you all the latest news that you might have missed this week from the world of fieldsports

Park suspends trail hunting

The Lake District National Park Authority has suspended licences for trail hunting on its land

The Lake District National Park Authority has become the latest UK public body to suspend trail hunting on land it owns after the trial
of Mark Hankinson (News, 27 October 2021).

Hankinson, at the time director of the Masters of Foxhounds Association (MFHA), was found guilty of inciting others to break the law in comments he made in a webinar, a copy of which was obtained by hunt saboteurs. The verdict led to a wave of public bodies banning trail hunting.

The Park Authority suspension only applies on land it owns or manages directly and not on land in the park in other ownership. Polly Portwin, director of hunting at the Countryside Alliance, said: “It is for hunts to show that their activity is legitimate and once that is demonstrated there can be no justification whatsoever for restricting a legal activity by the Lake District National Park Authority.”


Welsh ban claims are ‘fake’

Shooting contributes £75 million annually to the Welsh economy

The Welsh government has confirmed that it has no plans to ban shooting. A misleading, but widely circulated, social media post claimed that the Labour administration in Wales was to ban all fieldsports in the next few years. As Shooting Times suggested at the time (News, 20 April), this has been confirmed as
‘fake news’.

Now, in a formal letter to Ken Skates MS, minister Julie James has confirmed the post is “incorrect and the claims are baseless”.

However, restrictions to shooting in Wales mean that many in the principality remain gloomy about the future of the sport.

BASC Wales director Steve Griffiths commented: “While this will alleviate many fears across Wales, it will not stop the general mood that there is currently limited support for shooting from Welsh government.

“BASC is working hard to ensure the Welsh government acknowledges and supports the benefits shooting brings to the Welsh rural economy, livelihoods and conservation efforts.

“Shooting activities contribute £75 million to the Welsh economy every year, supporting the equivalent of 2,400 full-time jobs. Shooting contributes to an annual spend of £7.4 million on conservation and is involved in the management of 380,000 hectares.”


European lobby group to get proactive on hunting

European hunting is threatened by ill-conceived policy decisions

ACE (the European Federation for Hunting and Conservation) has launched the European Hunters’ Campaign to raise concerns over what FACE considers are  ill-conceived policy decisions that are negatively impacting hunting in Europe. FACE believes many hunting activities that underpin and incentivise species conservation and nature recovery are at risk and that policymakers in Brussels need to work with hunters, not against them.

The campaign cites many examples of problematic decision-making. One of these was the unsuccessful attempt to ban hunting and fishing in newly established, strictly protected areas that were proposed to cover 10% of the EU.

On launching the initiative, FACE president Torbjörn Larsson said: “We are facing unprecedented challenges, particularly with proposals drafted behind closed doors for Europe’s hunters. This campaign is a significant step forward to call on Brussels policymakers to work with us.”

BASC holds a vice-presidency position in FACE, acknowledging the UK’s continued ties to Europe and the EU through international treaties and trade. Even after Brexit, what happens in Europe can have repercussions: Regulation 9 of the UK’s Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 requires public authorities to comply with the EU Wild Birds and Habitats Directive. This means until changes are made to our legislation, we could still be affected by decisions made in Brussels. The fuss over lead ammunition was started by a UK REACH lead restriction dossier that was an example of European influence, as it followed the precedent set


Gunmakers’ Brexit headache

Gunmakers now have to fill an entire shipping container

The import and export issues that have plagued the shooting industry post-Brexit continue. The latest problems relate to small gunmakers who are finding it almost impossible to export from anywhere within Europe and the UK. One small Spanish manufacturer of high-end crafted shotguns told Shooting Times that it could no longer find a way to send its guns to the UK.

The issue seems to be that because of the extra paperwork involved, hauliers will not split containers as they used to, so anyone wanting to send guns by road through Europe has to fill a whole container. This is because shotguns are likely to cause delays at customs points while their paperwork is checked, and whatever else may be in a container with them gets held up too. Hauliers are simply not prepared, or not insured, to take that risk.

While it is possible to air-freight guns, this is a very expensive option and would lead to a significant increase in the cost of guns in the shops.

One English gun manufacturer explained that the road haulage issue was the reason they were unable to exhibit at the international trade show, IWA, in Nuremberg in March.

Elaine Stewart of Longthorne said: “We had the same problem as we could not transport by road economically and cancelled IWA because of it — too much of a headache.”


No change to licence on protected sites

General licence 43, which allows the releasing of gamebirds on and around protected sites, has been renewed largely unchanged. The licence, which was introduced in response to a legal challenge by campaign group  Wild Justice, allowed releasing to continue as long as best practice was observed. The reissued licence is substantially the same with some clarifications to the ‘consenting process’. Shoots releasing birds on or around protected sites are advised to contact shooting or gamekeeping organisations for advice if they are at all unsure about the terms of licences and consents.


Fowlers fire for Her Majesty’s jubilee

With the countryside turning out in force to mark HM the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee from 2 to 5 June, locals in Lincolnshire made their traditional noisy salute to mark the occasion. Every coronation and jubilee are marked in the village of Cowbit near Spalding with a 21-gun salute and this jubilee it was fired from seven punt-guns belonging to local wildfowlers. That is how you really mark the occasion with a bang.