Those with coastal sporting rights in England will have no status during Natural England’s consultation process on the controversial Marine and Coastal Access Bill, according to the Countryside Alliance (CA).

Pro-shooting organisations have recently held a series of meetings with the Government to clarify certain parts of the bill in a bid to safeguard the rights of wildfowlers and other shooters.

Currently, those with “an interest in land” are allowed to appeal decisions on proposed coastal access areas. This includes landowners, leaseholders and those in lawful occupation of the land such as farmers with grazing rights. The Government has confirmed to the CA that this defi nition does not include holders of sporting rights, however.

The CA’s James Legge explained: “In practical terms, this means that wildfowling clubs that hold sporting rights over land that they do not own will not have proper statutory recognition when the coastal access routes and associated ‘spreading room’ are defined.” Mr Legge added that The Crown Estate alone currently grants 59 leases covering more than 700km of foreshore. None of those lessees, or the hundreds of other clubs and shoots
that lease or own sporting rights, will have full statutory rights in the process of reclassifi cation of the coastal land they shoot over. They would only have the right to appeal against the imposition, or the failure to impose, any restrictions or exclusions.

“As it stands, the bill would allow Natural England to allocate a significant part of a marsh or shoot for public access without necessarily consulting the holder of sporting rights,” said Mr Legge. Government assurances about a general right of appeal for closures and restrictions are not good enough, according to the CA. “Owners of sporting rights have a valid interest in the designation and management of coastal access land,” said Mr Legge.

The rest of this article appears in 28 May issue of Shooting Times.

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