Big Farmland Bird Count
The Big Farmland Bird Count was extended last month to allow for the extreme weather. Originally planned to end on 16th February, an extra week was added to 23rd February to give more time for counts to be concluded. The results are now being coordinated.
Wild Justice Challenge
Wild Justice, the campaign group led by Chris Packham, Mark Avery and Ruth Tingay, has initiated a legal challenge to Defra on the rearing and releasing of gamebirds. The Judicial Review will consider whether Defra should undertake an environmental assessment of the release of 47 million pheasants and 10 million French partridges each year and, until that is done, whether the release is unlawful under the EU Habitats and Wild Birds Directives.
Last week a joint statement was issued on the future of lead shot. Endorsed by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, the Countryside Alliance, BASC, the British Game Alliance, the National Gamekeepers Organisation, the CLA, Moorland Association, Scottish Land and Estates and SCAS, the statement calls for an end to the use of both lead and single-use plastics in ammunition used by those taking all live quarry with shotguns within five years. This is seen as a critical move as many of those organisations have been opposed to a ban until now. The challenge is now extended to the cartridge manufacturers to further develop alternatives during the phasing out period.
Minette Batters was re-elected unopposed as President of the NFU at its AGM last week. Stuart Roberts, formerly Vice President, was elected Deputy President in place of Guy Smith and Tom Bradshaw was elected Vice President.
It is also reported that Liam Stokes has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of the British Game Alliance in place of Tom Adams who has resigned. Liam was head of the Game and Conservation department at Lackham College before becoming Head of Campaigning at the Countryside Alliance. For the last 18 months he was Senior Leader for Farming Sector Policy at Defra. Tom was warmly praised for his outstanding achievement in founding and developing the BGA but he now considers the time is right to move on to fresh challenges.