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High Court throws out Wild Justice muirburn judicial review

The pressure group is now liable for thousands in costs

Wild Justice’s attempts to disrupt the muirburn season have been thrown out of court at a judicial review. Wild Justice has been ordered to pay £10,000 in costs to Defra, the National Gamekeeper’s Organisation, the Countryside Alliance and BASC – the latter three had managed to have themselves identified as ‘interested parties’ by the court to ensure their voices were heard. 
On its website Wild Justice reacted by saying: “We have been refused permission for judicial review of the much criticised and frankly grossly inadequate regulations brought in by Defra to limit vegetation burning on peatland soils in the uplands of England. This is disappointing but we remain of the view that the case is arguable and the reasoning behind it is correct. We shall be conferring with our lawyers on this matter … “

£1,100 donation to Gamekeepers Welfare Trust

Defra will receive up to £8,900 and the interested parties £1,100. 

Reacting to the Honourable Mr Justice Dove’s decision, a spokesperson for the fieldsports organisations said: “This is positive news for the dedicated and hard-working land managers who are responsible for protecting, preserving and promoting our uplands.

“Wild Justice’s application was speculative at best but required a firm opposition by Defra which was reinforced by our submissions as interested parties. We will continue to work with Defra to ensure land managers have the tools at their disposal so that they can benefit key habitats and species.

“The interested parties have agreed that the costs recovered from Wild Justice, £1,100 will in turn be donated to the Gamekeepers Welfare Trust, a charity close to all our members’ hearts.


In one claim put forward Wild Justice had argued that without a map of the areas of land protected by the Heather and Grass Burning (England) Regulations 2021 they cannot be enforced. Giving reasons for refusing the judicial review, the Honourable Mr Justice Dove stated: “I do not accept that it is arguable that without a map the Burning Regulations cannot be enforced. The definitions contained within Regulations 2 and 3 of the Burning Regulations clearly specify the characteristics of areas protected from burning without a licence so as to enable it to be known when a licence is required. These parameters are identifiable without the need for the production of a document mapping the land concerned.”