On 23 June the High Court ruled that the case will be heard by the end of October 2020.
Wild Justice has successfully applied for a judicial review on the impact of releasing gamebirds on sites of nature conservation. If the review is successful it could have major implications for the 2021 pheasant and partridge shooting season.
The animal rights activist explained its reasoning for pushing for the review saying: “Defra admitted last year (2019) that it was required to assess the impacts of the vast numbers of non-native gamebirds on Special Protection Areas for birds and Special Areas of Conservation for wildlife and yet has recently admitted that its progress is so slow that nothing will be in place to limit releases this year.”
In February lawyers for Wild Justice lodged court papers calling for a ban on releases on non-native gamebirds (pheasants and red-legged partridges) in England, except where Defra has ruled that there will be no ecological impact.
Following this Defra described Wild Justice’s action as ‘vexatious’ and ‘pointless’. It asked the court to refuse Wild Justice permission to bring the claim and asked to be awarded its costs. In submissions to the court the government body said that Wild Justice is ‘shooting at the wrong target’ .
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Shooting organisations will be providing written and oral evidence prior to the hearing and BASC, the Countryside Alliance, the Game Farmers’ Association and the National Gamekeepers Organisation are joining the government in defending a judicial review against the release of gamebirds in and near to designated sites.
A spokesperson for the organisations said: “The government has made its position clear, yet Wild Justice continues to take actions that necessitate them using valuable time and resources defending a court case at a time of national crisis. We are pleased to stand alongside government in facing down this challenge by this anti-shooting group.”