The much-criticised review of whether the use of firearms is appropriate on Natural Resources Wales (NRW) owned or managed land for third party activity and pest control is now well underway with no fewer than 20 NRW paid employees involved in the process, excluding the team responsible for collating responses and elected NRW board members.
The Countryside Alliance submitted evidence to the review in April, laying out the benefits of shooting to Wales both in terms of conservation and social and economic development. The Alliance response demonstrated how shooting complements and enables the delivery of the seven wellbeing goals as laid out in the Future Generations Wales Act.
The Alliance were informed that an internal expert panel with the necessary expertise in the wellbeing goals would be tasked with the firearms review and would consist of the following NRW staff: An NRW Economist; Senior Statistician; Forest planning team leader; Wildlife management officer; NRW Ornithologist; Conservation and recreation management planning team leader; Woodland and spatial ecologist; Recreation, Health and wellbeing team leader; Regional land agent; Senior reserve manager; Operational Resources manager; Mammal ecologist; Permitting services manager; Monitoring, strategy and planning team leader; Biodiversity and fisheries manager; Natural resources transformation advisor; Sustainable land management team leader; Sustainable land, farming and forest management manger; and a Common land and agriculture advisor. The Alliance acknowledges the expertise in the wellbeing goals, but has queried the levels of firearms and wildlife management expertise among this group of professionals.
While preparing our response to this review, the Alliance discovered NRW had only recently completed a very similar review of shooting on NRW-managed land. In July the Alliance was present at the NRW board meeting held in Brecon, Powys and once again questioned the board on why the new review was being paid for when NRW had so recently concluded eighteen months of work that demonstrated that an extra £500,000 could be gained every year by increasing the shooting opportunities on land owned or managed by NRW. It was evident at the July meeting that the Board knew nothing about their very own internal review on shooting opportunities.
It is believed that the NRW team listed above met for the first time over the summer and have been presented with a summary of the responses. The Alliance has been advised by the Board that a public consultation will be launched in the autumn, poorly timed, just as the season gets underway.