COMMENT BY EDITOR, NIGEL ALLEN
Back in May 2014’s Airgun Shooter (full digital copy here), my editorial piece made reference to Natural England’s proposed amendments to the UK’s General Licences. In short, they wanted to enforce a ‘shoo before you shoot’ policy upon pest controllers, and I called upon the airgunning community to air its discord with the proposals.
For those who don’t know, Natural England is a non-departmental government adviser the natural environment, whose remit is to provide practical advice – grounded in science – on how best to safeguard England’s natural wealth for the benefit of its citizens. And the General Licence is a ‘permission’ that’s automatically granted to shooters when undertaking pest control of authorised bird species with a gun in the interest of crop protection; species like woodpigeons, corvids and feral pigeons.
The plans to enforce non-lethal methods were tabled under their consultation on gun laws back in 2014 – but they were slammed as being totally impractical – daft, even – by all shooters and shooting organisations. What was particularly concerning, however, was the opening gambit in Natural England’s consultation paper. It read as follows: It should be noted that while we will take account of all responses received in our decision making, this does not necessarily mean that we will follow the most popular option… the final decision will be taken by Natural England as the regulator.
Anyway, I’m glad to report that it appears Natural England has shelved the shoo-ing idea (albeit a little quietly). In a statement, Natural England has said: The case for change has not been sufficiently made. It is important that amendments to General Licences provide confidence, certainty and clarity, and the consultation has established that in some areas there is not a broad consensus that the suggested changes will provide that. In light of the detailed feedback received, the Board has therefore determined that these questions and proposals should not be adopted.
For once, I have to commend Natural England for its practical approach to the situation, and I applaud the many shooters and organisations who campaigned against such a stupid regulation change.