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Welsh Minister comments spark backlash

Comments made by a Welsh Minister claiming there is no place for shooting in a ‘civilised society’ have been slapped down by shooting organisations, reports Jack Knott

Paul Hogarth shooting on Middle House.

The statement was made by the Minister for Climate Change, Julie James MS, during a debate in the Senedd on shooting’s benefits to the Welsh countryside.

In response to a question on the role of shooting and conservation, she said ‘I do not think killing anything as a sport or for leisure is anything that any civilised society should support’.

The debate held by James Evans, MS for Brecon and Radnorshire, came at the midpoint of a 12-week Natural Resources Wales consultation that proposes a ban on releasing gamebirds in Wales.

Speaking in support of shooting in Wales at the debate, James Evans MS said: “Shooting is fundamental to rural communities in Wales. It provides opportunities for people from all walks of life to come together in the great outdoors and enjoy each other’s company.”

Following the debate, BASC’s head of policy and campaigns, Dr Conor O’Gorman, said: “The Minister’s comments on the floor of the Senedd highlight the anti-shooting agenda currently driving policy decisions in Wales.

“It is not just a blatant disregard of scientific evidence but real-world contempt for the rural community and thousands of jobs.

“Shooting is worth £75 million to Wales’ economy annually, supporting the equivalent of 2,400 full-time jobs. The outright dismissal of shooting is damaging to the Welsh countryside and will create widespread discontent across rural Wales.

Alongside James Evans MS, speaking in support of shooting in Wales were Sam Kurtz MS, chair of the cross-party group on shooting and conservation, Laura Jones MS, Mabon ap Gwynfor MS and Russell George MS.

During the debate Sam Kurtz said: “Where else in our society would we have a sport where we have a grandfather and his granddaughter going out for a day, spending time together in the great outdoors”.

Conor continued: “Our thanks must go to the Members of the Senedd willing to stand up and support sustainable shooting, using facts and figures to back up their arguments.”