Wild Justice to challenge GL43 Licenses again
The GL43 is the result of Wild Justice’s efforts to interrupt shooting venues in and around SSI’s. The general license came into effect on June 1st 2021. The outcome was as we predicted previously, with little change to what’s to been in effect for some time. However, as expected Wild Justice has promised to return to court to battle the matter further. This will be the 3rd time the group has taken some aspect of grouse shooting to court.
The motives are clear as ever, the intentions are to interrupt or stop shooting and not to come to any compromise. This “my way or the high way” attitude is becoming more and more apparent as time goes on. The “Precautionary principle” allows Wild Justice to continuously challenge any directive that may impact protected sites. It seems likely that Wild Justice will continue to challenge these outcomes at every opportunity.
The Countryside Alliance Responds
Tim Bonner’s response is excellent and questions Wild Justice’s motives in their rampant efforts to disband all shooting. Their attempt in November last year was rejected alongside their request for costs. This whole effort draws huge similarities to the ongoing battle over grouse shooting. Using political prejudice they’ve painted a horrendous image of the shooting industry that doesn’t reflect reality. The argument has quickly unraveled into identity politics which continuously prove pointless.
The question of whether Wild Justice wishes to compromise or dictate terms raises its head again. Each of their challenges has fallen flat but they need to be seen to be doing something. Their supporters are anti shooting so challenges like this form part of their everyday work. What to farmers and rural communities is their lifeblood is a marketing campaign for Wild Justice.
The GL43 license now places a cap on the number of birds put down per hectare. Within SSSI’s this is 700 Partridge or Pheasants. In the 500m buffer, this number increases to 1000 birds per hectare. These numbers fit inside the GWCT best rearing practices so shouldn’t impact most shoots. There also looks to be more discourse between SSSI’s and shoots should either party find a particular issue. Exemptions to the GL43 license are available to shoots who can’t work within this ruleset but this will be on a case by case basis.
The licenses are as we expected they would be so there are no surprises there. The rules of the GL43 fall within the guidelines laid out by the GWCT which is the right approach. It’s pleasing to see that DEFRA has looked at this with science informing their decision. The confines of the general license fit standard practice for most shoots so not much change at all. One change is that numbers and species of birds must be documented with the approval of the appropriate SSSI. We will wait and see whether that last condition will affect many shoots but we hope Natural England will be working with shoots for the best possible outcome.
Naturally, there will be resistance from Wild Justice to accept this outcome. They’ve challenged every previous outcome without success but we expect them to try again. This will be used as another attempt to raise funds to take some other aspect of fieldsports licensing to court. Hopefully, this won’t have the same outcome as the pest bird licenses last year. This mismanagement has lead to the loss of livestock and crop which was totally avoidable.
Unfortunately, anti shooting rhetoric is becoming increasingly common. The conversation is becoming more divisive and less factual as time goes on. We spoke on the importance of gamekeepers recently and how their work is never publicly appreciated. The facts from all sides of the conversation point to their benefit yet the conversation seems to dismiss this. Often in favour of identity politics and following a more anecdotal path.
The GL43 license looks to be an appropriate license which follows well founded and proven technical analysis. The outcomes will be both successful shoots and protected SSSI’s. This is a compromise which will suit both parties as undoubtedly the pest control on the shoot benefits the species within the SSI’s. The preposterous 5km boundaries proposed by Wild Justice would have benefited no one and certainly not the birds residing in those areas.