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Shooters call for more rights in public forests

Shooting organisations are calling on the Forestry Commission (FC) to develop a new national policy for shooting. Shooters currently rent around 45,000 hectares of public woodland in England from the Government body and feel that their sport has not been given equal status with other recreational activities such as walking and cycling.

The move comes in response to the FC’s public consultation entitled The Study of the Forestry Commission Estate in England, which looks at the long-term role of public forests. The consultation was launched on 6 July and ran until 28 September.

“BASC is urging the FC to promote and properly recognise the current and potential value of live quarry shooting as a recreational activity,” BASC’s head of gamekeeping Tom Blades told Shooting Times. Mr Blades added: “BASC believes that there are double standards in the way in which different recreational activities are supported within the public forest. For example, activities such as mountain biking and walking enjoy the provision of extra cycle and footpaths at no cost to the user. On the other hand, shooters who are themselves recreational users of the public forest have to pay for the right to use the forest and in turn pay for the infrastructure that supports their sport.”

Mr Blades also pointed out that sporting leases should not place excessive restraints on shooters: “Given the economic and environmental benefits that can be obtained through shooting, it seems odd that some recent FC leases have included unnecessary restrictions on shooting. BASC would like this policy to be reviewed.”

The rest of this article appears in 14th October issue of Shooting Times.

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