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Thérèse Coffey leaves key rural questions unanswered

Defra secretary Thérèse Coffey reiterated her support for shooting.

Defra secretary Thérèse Coffey avoided answering some of the biggest questions facing the rural and shooting community at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester last week. While taking part in discussions organised by the Countryside Alliance and BASC, Dr Coffey broadly reiterated her support for shooting interests but failed to give definite responses to key queries.

Tim Bonner, chief executive of Countryside Alliance, who shared a panel with Ms Coffey, told ST: “The secretary of state, and ministers more widely, were keen to reiterate their support for shooting but were unable to answer all our concerns over GL43, the future impact of avian influenza on the release of pheasants and partridges and proper consultation by Government agencies.“There has never been any doubt about the current Government’s goodwill, but despite that the legal situation on the rearing and releasing of gamebirds and the management of wildlife continues to become more restrictive.”

BASC’s head of policy and campaigns, Dr Conor O’Gorman, explained that politicians tend to be non-committal and avoid important questions, at least in part because of overzealous journalists writing misleading headlines. Ms Coffey did, however, remark that we wouldn’t have the “marvellous countryside we have today” if not for the fieldsports community.

This story first appeared in Shooting Times, Britain’s oldest and best-selling shooting magazine. Published every Wednesday, the 141-year-old title has long been at the coalface of the countryside, breaking the stories that matter to you. Subscribe here.