Wild Justice misrepresented by Daily Telegraph, again

Scaremongering and hysteria is the response we’ve come to expect from many within the game-shooting world whenever Wild Justice launches a new legal challenge, and that’s exactly what the Daily Telegraph published yesterday in an article headlined as, ‘Dog walkers could be banned from swathes of countryside under Chris Packham plans, it is feared’.

According to Telegraph journalist Hayley Dixon, Wild Justice’s current legal action against DEFRA concerning the Government’s failure to undertake environmental impact assessments on the release of millions of non-native gamebirds near Natura 2000 sites, ‘could have a knock on effect on other activities’ such as ‘dog-walking, horse riding and farming’. Her article includes quotes from BASC, Countryside Alliance, Game Farmers’ Association and the National Gamekeepers Organisation so it’s not difficult to see what prompted the melodrama.

Wild Justice co-director Dr Mark Avery said the suggestion that dog-walking would be affected was “nonsense”, adding, “Our case is about the real issue of biodiversity concerns”.

Solicitor Tessa Gregory from law firm Leigh Day, representing Wild Justice, did provide a quote to the journalist but only part of it was published. Here it is in full:

The suggestion that Wild Justice’s legal claim could result in the need to assess the environmental impact of dog-walking in the countryside is wrong and shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the law. Assessment is required under the law where, based on objective evidence, it is not possible to exclude likely significant effects of a plan or project on protected sites (known as Natura 2000 sites).

It is the scale, organisation and regularity of the mass release of gamebirds that mean such releases are capable of being a plan or project for the purposes of the law. Where these mass releases are on or near protected sites, it will in some instances (as accepted by Defra), not be possible to exclude negative impacts. It is in those circumstances that Wild Justice are asking the Government to comply with the law and carry out an assessment of the environmental impact of gamebird releases. Of course, there is nothing to fear from an assessment if a particular activity does not harm a protected site”.

Oh, and by the way, Daily Telegraph, none of the three Wild Justice Directors (Chris Packham CBE, Dr Mark Avery, Dr Ruth Tingay) are ‘animal rights activists’ as you’ve wrongly asserted. We’ve been here with you many times before (e.g. see here) and if you continue to misrepresent us we will consider legal action.