Defra have stated that they are willing to challenge Wild Justice’s latest legal challenge “in full”, and the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation are giving the government department our full support.
The latest potential challenge relates to the General Licence for the prevention of serious damage (GL42). An article in The Guardian on Friday claimed that the government “has U-turned” with regards the definition of gamebirds as livestock. Defra have denied this, stating:
“We confirmed to Wild Justice that we would contest their proposed claim in full. There has been absolutely no change in our position on gamebirds in relation to GL42. To imply otherwise, or that we conceded that the statutory definition was extended, is incorrect. We did not extend, nor have we changed, the definition.”
The NGO have promised to continue to fight any of Wild Justice’s legal challenges which threaten the sustainable management of Britain’s countryside – including the use of GL42, which is a vital management tool.
If Wild Justice take this matter to the courts the NGO will, once again, apply for Interested Party status, alongside BASC and the Countryside Alliance, which would allow us to review all court papers and arguments put forward by Wild Justice.
David Pooler, Chairman of the NGO, said:
“The NGO are committed to protecting both the livelihoods of gamekeepers and the future of shooting in Britain, and the use of GL42 is essential for preventing serious damage to gamebirds. The law relating to the issuing of general licences has not changed, and the NGO will do all that we can to support both Defra and our Aim to Sustain partners in the courts, if it comes to that, and in any subsequent misguided legal challenges brought by Wild Justice.”
Previous footnote to GL42:
‘Livestock’ is as defined in section 27(1) of the 1981 Act. For the purpose of this licence, this expression also includes gamebirds kept in an enclosure or which are free roaming but remain significantly dependent on the provision of food, water or shelter by a keeper for their survival. This does not include supplementary feeding.
‘Livestock’ is as defined in section 27(1) of the 1981 Act. This expression includes gamebirds kept in an enclosure or which are free roaming but remain significantly dependent on the provision of food, water, or shelter (by and within the release pen) by a keeper for their survival. The placement of supplementary food out into the environment for wild gamebirds does not mean those wild gamebirds are ‘kept’ and it does not therefore make them ‘livestock’.