CLA President Henry Robinson has responded to the Law Commission’s final report on wildlife laws, published today, which includes a draft for a new Wildlife Bill to consolidate existing legislation.
Mr Robinson said: “We welcome the Law Commission’s review of our wildlife laws. This is a significant step towards delivering a clear and comprehensive body of law based on a coherent mix of guidance, fines and civil sanctions. There is still work to be done to ensure that our laws are fair and consistent with EU Law and international conventions and the CLA will play a full and constructive part in ensuring that this initiative puts an end to the piecemeal approach that continues to cause confusion for Estate and Land Managers.”
The CLA represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses in England and Wales.
Mr Robinson continued: “We welcome improvements to the laws against poaching, but we are concerned that the proposals give significant powers to the Minister to increase the number of species that are regulated and to amend close seasons. There must be sufficient checks and balances to ensure these powers are exercised appropriately. The failure to introduce a mechanism to review the refusal of a licence to control species is also disappointing and will reduce the perception of fairness in how the legislation is delivered.
“We are pleased that the Law Commission agreed with our arguments against the proposal to create an offence of vicarious liability – which holds an employer automatically responsible for the acts of his staff. We agree that making it an offence for an employer “knowingly to cause or permit” their staff to commit a wildlife crime is a better approach. However the repeal of the “incidental result” defence which ensures land managers do not inadvertently break the law – for example when taking lawful action to control a species but inadvertently causing the death of a controlled species as a result – will cause confusion and risk of spurious prosecutions.”
Information on the Law Commission’s report on a new Wildlife Bill can be found here - http://www.lawcom.gov.uk/project/wildlife-law/