The home of Shooting Times and Sporting Gun

Small shoots struggling with Defra compliance

Bureaucracy is proving hard, reports Steve Faragher

people waving flags by sea

Many shoots have been affected by the withdrawal of the licence

Shoots within 500m of Special Protection Areas (SPAs), which include most coastal areas, are struggling to overcome the bureaucracy associated with Defra’s short-notice decision not to renew the existing general licence (43) for releasing gamebirds.

ST contributor Simon Garnham, who has already ordered poults for release in woodland near to the Stour Estuary, had to contact Natural England three times before being advised in late June that the “Stour and Orwell Estuaries is not on our list of SPAs for which it may be possible for Natural England to issue an individual licence within or adjacent to the SPA, without having exceptional circumstance”.

“It’s a bit daft,” Simon told ST. “The shoot’s been releasing modest quantities of pheasants — usually 50 to 100 — in 10 acres of woodland near the river for over 100 years. I’m going to have to move the release pen 150m up the hill, which obviously is a tough ask at this late stage. I know of plenty of other shoots round here in a similar position.

“Ironically it will be small shoots — those that even anti-shooting organisations recognise provide a net gain for wildlife — that are likely to be most adversely impacted.”