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Firearms licensing changes plus Defra’s Sustainable Farming Incentive

In the news this week

shooting pigeons with shotgun

The consultation will run for eight weeks, closing on 23 August

Firearms licensing changes

The shooting community breathed a massive sigh of relief last week, as the long-awaited announcement on proposed changes to shotgun licensing laws was released with an eight-week consultation period for the public.

The proposals were notable for the absence of any mention of adopting the same rules for shotguns as currently applied to other firearms, meaning that shotguns would continue to enjoy exemption from some of the more onerous legislation applied to rifles. This suggestion had been a key feature of some recommendations and was broadly expected to appear in the proposals.

The consultation instead contains many suggestions that the community would welcome, such as making it mandatory for your GP to be involved in the process of licence application, and the possibility of changing the length of the licence granted.

The Government also announced the allocation of £500,000 to fund mandatory police firearms licensing personnel training.

BASC director of firearms Bill Harriman said: “This is the most significant and important firearms licensing consultation in 35 years. It is essential that the shooting community responds and feeds in its views.”


Rising costs and subsidy concerns for farmers and landowners will have a knock-on effect on shoots

Defra gives funding details

Defra has released more details of its Sustainable Farming Incentive, part of the Environmental Land Management schemes (ELMs). This revolutionary new method of funding agriculture and countryside management has, however, raised concerns from farmers, with Minette Batters, the president of the NFU, saying: “There’s still a huge amount of concern that these schemes are seemingly not designed to be profitable for those who work the land.”

Due to pressures arising from the loss of the Single Farm Payment subsidy, staffing shortages and increased farm input costs, British agriculture is in a financial crisis. As a result, rises in costs for shooting tenancies, poults and feed are expected. Upland farmers have been particularly vocal over smaller payments under ELMs, citing fears over bankruptcies or lost tenancies.

Positives, however, are clear for many shoots, with increased support for hedgerow management, woodland creation and wetland preservation. Similarly, wildfowlers will be buoyed by boosts for pond creation, reedbeds, wetland grazing and intertidal habitats. The countryside awaits more news. (Read Richard’s piece: ‘Is rough shooting about to get a boost?’)