The use of environmental law to attack shooting looks set to remain a major tool of campaigners, despite Wild Justice suffering yet another embarrassing courtroom defeat.

This week the campaign group Wild Justice, whose multiple failed cases have cost the taxpayer tens of thousands of pounds, said they will appeal a ruling which dismissed their legal challenge to the muirburn regulations in England.

The case was summarily dismissed as “not arguable” on any of its grounds by a High Court judge. However, undaunted by the almost total absence of any
possibility of success, Wild Justice have announced that they have applied for the case to be ‘renewed’. This is similar to appealing a court’s decision and would need the first judge to be shown to have made an error in how he interpreted the law.

Environment law

Recognising the ongoing threat from disruptive challenges of this type, BASC has appointed a head of environment law research. Dr Marnie Lovejoy has a PhD in law and is the former associate head of Portsmouth Law School. She is also an active beater and spaniel owner with longstanding family connections to shooting and gamekeeping.

Shooting Times understands that Dr Lovejoy will be tasked with probing multiple different aspects of environmental law to identify weaknesses and potential angles of attack which may be exploited by campaigners and looking at how such challenges can be headed off.

Commenting on her new role, Marnie said: “I wanted to follow my passion and this opportunity was pushing at an open door. While our sport faces many legal challenges, there are countless opportunities that we as a community can benefit from. I am excited to get underway immediately.”

Among the cases she is likely to examine is last week’s decision by the Scottish Courts on Beaver Cull licences. The Group ‘Trees for Life’ had brought a case arguing that the licences issued by Nature Scot to allow beaver culling were unlawful. However, High Court judge Lady Carmicheal ruled that the licences were lawful but that written justifications for them had to be issued. The case was seen as potentially having far wider implications for wildlife management licences in Scotland and the ruling is seen as a reassurance that other vital licences are legally robust.

BASC’s Ross Ewing explained that, “although this judicial review was very much specific to beavers, the implications will more than likely extend to other protected species that are controlled under licence.”