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Now NGO calls in the lawyers on licensing

Welsh government proposals to license the release of gamebirds would be one step closer to banning shooting in the principality.

Lawyers representing the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO) have written to Welsh ministers regarding their proposals to license the release of gamebirds. Last year BASC and the Countryside Alliance branded the proposals as “a ban on shooting through the back door”. 

In March 2023, Welsh ministers launched a public consultation proposing the addition of common pheasants and red-legged partridges to Part 1 of Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 in Wales. 

This legislates against the release of certain alien species that do not naturally occur in Great Britain but have become established in the wild. The law currently includes invasive species such as mink, black rat, grey squirrel, signal crayfish and European pond terrapin. 

The NGO outlined in its correspondence with the Welsh government that it has “grave concerns” about the consultation and advice given by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to it in October 2023. 

The organisation highlighted that it does not believe NRW has adequately considered the responses to the consultation, having taken only a small sample of responses into account. It also stated it is deeply concerned that — despite clear opposition to the Welsh ministers’ proposed adjustments to legislation — NRW’s advice to the Welsh government was that a licensing scheme should be established immediately. 

Lindsay Waddell, former chairman of the NGO, told Shooting Times: “The NGO is correct in taking the Welsh government to task regarding its complete disregard of its own consultation process, but then, if it did not produce what it wished for, the next thing to do is ignore it. In its actions in this matter and in previous ones, there is no doubt that it would like to remove fieldsports from the countryside in Wales, regardless of the impact on the rural communities and economy.” 

BASC Wales director Steve Griffiths added: “It is vital that the new Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs reviews all of the responses and evidence from this consultation, prior to making a decision. An ill-thought-out approach could have detrimental consequences to rural communities, jeopardising jobs throughout Wales and having catastrophic impacts on privately funded conservation. 

“BASC is keen to engage with Welsh government to ensure it has a clear understanding of environment, economic and wellbeing benefits of gamebird release in Wales and this must happen before any further action is taken.”