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News this week: Land access could cause problems for ecosystems plus concerns about rising costs for clay shooting businesses

New countryside access act could be to the detriment of wildlife, conservationists warn. Plus concern for claygrounds affected by cost of living crisis.


It's common to see walkers straying off public footpaths

Problems for ecosystems

Richard Negus reports: Wildlife could suffer under a proposed new countryside access act, leading conservationists warn. News that a future Labour government would legislate for a “default of access” to the British countryside, has troubled leading practical conservationists.

Jim McMahon MP, shadow environment secretary, vowed his party would “open more of the countryside for people to explore”.

While the pressure group Right To Roam was effusive about the announcement, Dr Roger Draycott, head of advisory and education at the GWCT, countered by saying: “Disturbance, particularly by dogs off leads, is a real problem for ground-nesting birds.”

Dr Draycott’s informed opinion was echoed by Adam Steed, a Suffolk-based wild-bird keeper and previous winner of the GWCT East Anglian Grey Partridge Award: “I love to see people using the countryside responsibly; however, we regularly see walkers straying off paths and dogs running kilometres away from owners. These actions lead to unsustainable mortalities within some of our most threatened species. Right to Roam would put the boot into an already fragile ecosystem.”

clay shooter

The shooting ground sits on a 53-acre site, with a range of facilities

Are clay grounds struggling?

Ollie Harvey reports: Orston Shooting Ground has been placed on the market, prompting questions about the rising costs of running clay shooting businesses.

The 53-acre site in Nottingham has been listed for an undisclosed amount but features a range of clay pigeon stands, air rifle range, simulated game arena and grouse butt. Orston has also recently gained planning permission to develop a 24- lane full-bore rifle range.

Ian Simpson of Savills, which is marketing the property, said: “Shooting grounds rarely come to the market and development of new sites is challenging due to planning and noise restrictions. Due to the specialist skill set in running the business, the operational market is limited.”

Shooting Times contributor Tom Payne added that it was “inevitable” that clay shooting businesses were feeling the pinch. “The cost of living is affecting many grounds across the country,” he said. “The footfall for people coming to shoot during the week has reduced, and when they do, they shoot less. It’s an expensive hobby when you consider the price of cartridges, clays, fuel and food.”

Although the cost of living crisis is less likely to have an impact on grounds in the south, there are still high overheads, increasing interest rates and inevitable noise complaints to consider too. Despite this, Orston’s owner, Prescott Sporting Limited, says there are “many further opportunities on the horizon”.