The Countryside Alliance, through a Freedom of Information request, has discovered a recent Welsh petition was manipulated by people outside of Wales, resulting in a direct impact on policy decisions. The petition, initiated by animal rights organisations, wanted to ban pheasant shooting on Welsh public land. We found an astonishing 88.3% of the total signatures were from people outside of Wales.
Of the 12,706 signatures, only 1,487 had Welsh postcodes, representing less than 0.05% of the Welsh population. Furthermore, almost 1,000 signatures were addressed from outside of the UK.
Subsequently, and as a result of less than 0.05% of the Welsh population supporting the petition, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) were asked by the then Welsh Government Minister Hannah Blythyn AM to reverse their original decision to allow the continuation of leases for pheasant shooting. Thereby ignoring the extensive evidence-based review which demonstrated that game shooting contributes to the Sustainable Management of Natural Resources (SMNR).
Rachel Evans Director for Wales said: “This extraordinary finding showcases that as a result of signatures from outside Wales, a legitimate activity proven to deliver for the countryside has been stopped and jobs have been lost in Wales. It is time that decision makers both in and out of the political sphere review the practicalities of petitions. Wales is a soft target for those with ideological and extreme views. This petition has made a mockery of the petitioning process at the Assembly for the people of Wales.
“These figures go against the perceived public perception of shooting in Wales and are now sure to cause embarrassment. This has come at a huge cost to the public purse and has inevitably eaten in to the resources of the Welsh Assembly, Government and of course NRW.”
The Countryside Alliance will continue to work with the Petitions Committee to ensure that the voice of the people in Wales is represented fairly in the corridors of power in Cardiff Bay.