This week Natural Resources Wales (NRW) announced a delay to the introduction of a licence for gamebird release in Wales. News that CLA Cymru cautiously welcomes and wishes to thank NRW and Welsh Government for listening to the sector.
The consultation proposed that any release of gamebirds 500 metres or more from a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) or other protected site would have to apply for a general licence, whilst any releases within 500m would have to apply for a special licence with even more stringent conditions. Our key concern with the introduction of a license is the propensity for mission creep, Welsh Government could continue to add stricter conditions effectively regulating an industry out of existence in Wales.
The game industry is a vital component of the rural economy and it provides significant employment and income to a range of businesses. In addition, there are proven environmental benefits arising from game management- supplementary feeding, predator control and habitat management are beneficial to many threatened bird species.
CLA Cymru also argued the proposals were unworkable in the timeframe initially set out owing to the forward planning and investment already undertaken by operators in the sector, so we are delighted NRW have delayed any introduction.
Throughout the consultation period the CLA has worked with Aim2Sustain (the sector representative group) and members to develop our consultation response and demonstrate to NRW the value of shooting to the countryside. We have also met regularly (and will continue to do so) with officials to emphasise our concerns.
The proposals have brought the sector together resulting in over 40,000 responses to the initial consultation demonstrating how important the industry is to so many people. However, it is only a delay for NRW to analyse all the responses before a final decision is made, so we urge them and Welsh Government to work with the game management sector in Wales to develop ways forward which ensure the environmental, economic and cultural value of shooting are not lost.