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Shooters can help deliver new environmental plan

Rural organisations say that shooters and farmers can help the UK to achieve its new environmental plan, though call for greater clarity on the details.

25 Year Environmental Plan

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Roger Tidman/FLPA/imageBROKER/REX/Shutterstock (5302103a) Grey Partridge (Perdix perdix), adult, standing in stubble field, Norfolk, England, United Kingdom, Europe, winter VARIOUS

Shooters and farmers have a big part to play in delivering the Government’s new 25 Year Environmental Plan, say rural groups.

The plan for a “cleaner, greener Britain” was launched by Prime Minister Theresa May earlier this month and includes the creation of the previously announced Northern Forest, along with targets to eliminate avoidable refuse by 2050 and plastic waste by 2042. However, the plan has faced criticism for failing to provide specific proposed legislation and for lacking in urgency.

Habitat management

Ian Danby, BASC’s head of biodiversity, said that shooting can be a partner in delivering on environmental targets: “Those who shoot are involved in creating new habitats and managing existing ones to support species that are resident in the UK, like grey partridge, or those that visit here, such as migratory duck and geese species. Shooting plays an important role in managing the impact that wildlife has on our environment, for example controlling the impact of over-browsing by expanding deer populations.”

Lacking in detail

The Countryside Alliance (CA) described the plan as “ambitious” but raised concerns that the role of shooters and anglers had been overlooked. CA chief executive Tim Bonner said: “The plan lacks detail about how these objectives are going to be delivered and by whom. It is vital that delivery involves working with rural communities, not imposing solutions on them.”

CLA director of policy Christopher Price said that farmers and landowners would have a “crucial role” to play in delivering this vision, but added that there is “much more work to be done to make these plans more specific and signal where the hard choices will be made.”

NFU vice-president Guy Smith, meanwhile, said that “British farming has a unique role in producing a safe, affordable and high quality supply of food as well as protecting, maintaining and enhancing 70 per cent of the nation’s iconic countryside” and that the plan must go hand-in-hand with a post-Brexit food policy.