AN ANIMAL rights organisation has claimed that controversy over NRW plans to to lease land it owns in Ceredigion to commercial shoots for game birds has led to a public consultation over the future of shooting rights on the body’s land.
NRW leases five current areas of public land to commercial game shoots and those leases were not entered into by NRW, but by its predecessor bodies (Countryside Council for Wales, Environment Agency Wales and the Forestry Commission Wales). However, in addition to the five leases it inherited, NRW has sought to lease two additional sites for game shooting in Ceredigion: in the Tarenig and Myherin forests near Devil’s Bridge.
The birds involved would be pheasants, farmed elsewhere on a rear and release system for sports shooting.
Leaked internal NRW documents, including memoranda, criticise the proposed lease of Myherin Forest.
Nick Young, NRW Conservation Manager, wrote: “My considered opinion is that Myherin is not suitable for a leased shoot as things stand, and that any intention to take this proposal forward should require wider NRW and partner body consultation and an Ecosystem Appraisal of the likely effects of these shooting lease proposals.”
Peter van-Velzen, Programme Manager, said: “In my view the financial, employment and environmental impacts to harvesting by letting shooting rights here, will far outweigh the monetary income generated by a let. I note that no financial comparison has been carried out as part of this exercise.”
Nick Young also challenged a claim that the land earmarked for shooting was in ‘inconsistent use’ by the public. He pointed to Nantsyddion Bothy, which ‘is currently leased/loaned to the Mountain Bothies Association and is well used by walkers and well maintained at no cost to NRW. It forms part of a chain of bothies through Wales and often used in conjunction with Nant Rhys in Tarenig. Both Nant Rhys and Nantsyddion are well used’.
‘Does NRW really want the negative publicity of evicting MBA in favour of creating a shooting lodge?’
Animal Aid claims that NRW kept lease agreements ‘secret’ from the public and has launched a petition calling for ‘an end to ‘sport shooting’ on public land’. The text of the petition goes on to claim that ‘a properly conducted, independent and stakeholder-inclusive review should come to the conclusion that shooting should be banned on Welsh public land’.
The organisation also states that: “To ensure high stocks of pheasants on shoot days, NRW’s shoot tenants eliminate foxes, stoats, weasels, corvids and rodents.”
Last week, The Herald featured a story regarding one private shoot landowner’s campaign against the reintroduction of pine martens to the woodlands of Mid and West Wales.
A spokesperson for the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) explained to The Herald that BASC data does not separate out NRW land from other land upon which shoots take place in Wales.
They went on to say: “Shooting in Wales supports almost 2,500 full time jobs throughout the supply chain. This equates to £64m per year spent in Wales by shoot providers and participants annually. Shooting in Wales has been estimated to provide Gross Value Added of £75 million to the UK economy and can be an important source of income outside of traditional tourism periods. BASC, therefore, believes that shooting makes a significant contribution to the public estate.”
NRW were unable to provide The Herald with a start date for the consultation, as it is still finalising the arrangements, but the work will be finished in 2017.
Chris Tucker, Forestry Advisor for Natural Resources Wales who is leading the review, said: “One of our roles is to make the most of the land we manage on behalf of Welsh Government to benefit people, economy and the environment in Wales.
“Part of this work is the shooting rights we lease to third parties which have detailed plans to prevent harm to wildlife and the environment.
“We are carrying out a formal review of our policy on shooting on the land we manage, including activities by third parties, and this will include a consultation with the public to get their views.”
A Welsh Government spokesperson told us: “Natural Resources Wales is currently carrying out a review of its policy on shooting on NRW owned and managed land. The Welsh Government will be consulted during the review to ensure the review itself addresses the complaints received about animal welfare.”
Further delay to Universal Credit in Ceredigion
BEN LAKE MP for Ceredigion has expressed his concerns following a recent announcement by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that the roll-out of the government’s controversial benefit payment, Universal Credit, will be fully rolled-out across Ceredigion in December 2018.
The payment, which is set to replace longstanding benefits such as Income Support, ESA and Working Tax Credits, had initially been set to become active in Ceredigion in September 2018, however recent documentation shows the date has now been moved back to December 2018.
Ben Lake MP has expressed his concern that a roll-out in December 2018 will hit families and vulnerable people at the most difficult time of year.
Ben Lake MP said: “I welcome the news that the UK Government have decided to delay the roll-out of Universal Credit in Ceredigion, I hope that this will allow the Government an opportunity to address and resolve many of the well-publicised issues associated with the payment. There have already been significant problems with the roll-out of the new regime in other areas, however, the proposed timing of December for its roll-out in Ceredigion is particularly problematic.
“With the Christmas celebrations, cold weather, and lengthy holiday periods, December can often be a difficult month financially for many families and individuals. I have significant concerns therefore that the full introduction of Universal Credit in Ceredigion will not only see claimants put under additional financial strain, but that it will coincide with a period when many of the support services available will be disrupted due to the festive holidays.”
“I have since written to the Department of Work and Pensions expressing such concerns.”
Share experiences of sexual harassment to help police
PEOPLE who have been subject to sexual harassment are encouraged to share their experiences to help understand the scale of the problem in communities across Wales.
Dyfed-Powys Police is taking part in a country-wide campaign, which urges anyone who has been subject to sexual harassment to say when and where the incident took place, as well as how it made them feel, anonymously through an online survey.
The results will be used to challenge and change the culture of misogyny and sexual harassment, so people can feel safe to live their lives without fear of harassment.
Dyfed-Powys Police Assistant Chief Constable Richard Lewis said: “Sexual harassment is simply unacceptable – it doesn’t matter who it comes from or where it happens, it should not be tolerated by anyone in society.
“We are committed to making sure everybody feels safe in their community, and has the freedom to make life choices without fear of sexual harassment. We want people to be able to access every area of society with confidence, from sports facilities and workplaces, to public transport or pubs and clubs.
“By taking part in this survey, you will help us to understand the scale of the problem in communities across Dyfed-Powys Police, which will enable us to listen to those affected by sexual harassment and to make a real difference in the future.”
To take part in the survey, visit https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/SWPCOM
Proposed salmon byelaws to be postponed until 2019
NEW fishing byelaws have been proposed which will make it mandatory for fishermen to release all salmon caught in Welsh rivers.
The procedures for introducing new byelaws are protracted and Natural Resources Wales wishes to avoid uncertainty for fishermen by delaying implementation of approved new measures until the 2019 fishing season.
The proposed all Wales byelaws, which include restrictions on fishing methods to help the survival of released fish and reduced net fishing seasons, are currently being considered by Welsh Government.
Dave Mee, Senior Fisheries Advisor for NRW, said: “At the moment timescales for a decision are uncertain, so we are proposing that introduction of any new measures should be postponed until the beginning of the 2019 rod and net seasons.
“We hope this will help clarify the situation for anglers, netsmen, fishery owners and clubs and associations.”
Welsh salmon stocks remain in a perilous condition. Although the mandatory catch and release proposals have proved unpopular with anglers, NRW firmly believes that they, along with other measures such as tackling agricultural pollution, improving water quality and managing the potential threats from predators are vital for the future survival of these iconic fish.
Peter Gough, Principal Fisheries Advisor for NRW added: “This delay is a pragmatic solution to resolving current uncertainty.
“However, it is important to note that this does not mean there will be further debate on the subject as NRW has concluded its position and the case for further controls has been made and presented to Welsh Government and it remains unchanged.
“Protection of the breeding resources of these wonderful fish is a fundamental part of our work to manage this important natural resource sustainably.”
This season, fishermen are again being asked by NRW to practice full restraint and ensure conservation of fish stocks by voluntarily releasing all the salmon they catch in 2018.
Dave explained: “Our salmon stocks are in serious trouble and have fallen to historically low levels and the same is true of about half of our sea trout stocks.
“Neither species can sustain uncontrolled killing of fish and so we are again asking all anglers to release all of their salmon.
“Most anglers are already voluntarily releasing the fish they catch, but some are not. We feel the situation is now so serious for salmon that we must ask all anglers to help preserve as many fish as possible by returning all their salmon.
“It’s also very important to take great care of returned fish. Fishing methods and tackle should be used that ensure fish have a high probability of survival, they should always be kept in the water while unhooking to ensure they can swim away strongly.”
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