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End for pheasant shoots on Government land

Created on 21/09/2018 @ 19:53
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By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter

Pheasant shooting leases on Welsh Government land in Powys will come to an end next year.

The leases that are managed by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) on the Welsh  Government Woodland Estate (WGWE) at Cwmgwnen which stretches from north Powys towards Oswestry, Maesmawr near Caersws and Bankwood near Llandrindod Wells.

They will come to an end in March 2019 with NRW confirming there will be no lease renewals.

The decision was taken at an NRW board meeting this week and follows a three year campaign by thy Animal Aid and the League Against Cruel Sports.

This included a petition signed by over 12,500 people urging the government body to ban the practice.

Bethan Collins, senior public affairs officer (Wales) at league against cruel sports, said: “NRW is to be commended in the strongest terms for ensuring pheasant shooting in the Welsh national forest is being brought to an end.

“This outcome reflects strong opposition to the practice from the Welsh Government, over 75 per cent of the public who oppose shooting birds for sport and an urgent need to reverse damage to wildlife and the environment on the public estate.

Fiona Pereira, campaigns manager at Animal Aid, added: “NRW can now use that land for positive activities that are kind to animals and to the environment, and importantly, set an example for other public bodies to bring about an end to the shooting of birds.

The decision by NRW, is part of its final position statement on the use of firearms on land it manages.

It had been expected to be discussed at a Board Meeting in July,  but the body was plunged into crisis with the resignation of chairwoman, Diane McCrea, over issues with timber contracts.

Madeleine Havard, NRW’s acting chair said: “In making our final decisions, the Board also accepted the Welsh Government’s position as landowner.

“We have taken the time to review all the information provided to us by a wide a range of stakeholders.

“We are confident that we have a robust position statement that reflects the requirements of the Environment (Wales) Act.”

But Rosset based British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) believed the decision is bad for the economy and is another blow to NRW’s credibility.

In a statement it said: “BASC is astounded that the position of Natural Resources Wales (NRW), an evidence-based organisation, can be changed by the radical petitioning of extremist groups. Today’s decision strikes at the very credibility of NRW.

“The Environment Minister for Wales, Hannah Blythyn AM, has pandered to animal rights extremists and has then imposed their position onto NRW, contrary to the evidence produced by a comprehensive review and public consultation into the future of shooting on Welsh public land.

“Shooting is worth £75 million annually to the Welsh economy, it invests £7.4 million in the maintenance and enhancement of natural resources each year and supports the equivalent of 2,400 full-time jobs.

“That is now at risk.”

NRW will continue to:

·         Consider requests for permissions to drive birds from the WGWE, provided it is not in connection with shooting activity.

·         Review the leasing of wildfowl shooting rights when the potential impacts on conservation species is known. NRW’s ornithologists are reviewing this impact of wildfowling on rare bird species.

·         Continue to consider applications for permission to carry out control of wild species, impacting on neighbouring land management objectives, using firearms on the land we manage.

·         The review had been carried out to assess firearms use against NRW’s role and purpose, to manage Wales’ natural resources in a sustainable way.

·         The Board had previously agreed an evidence-based set of recommendations regarding the use of firearms on the land it manages.

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