An attempt to ban trail hunting on land owned by Cornwall Council has failed, following a successful campaign by the Countryside Alliance and local hunts.
It comes following the long-awaited publication of a formal response from the Leader of the Council to organisers of a petition to have it banned.
In January 2022, a petition organised by ‘Action Against Foxhunting’ was submitted to Cornwall councillors calling for a total ban of trail hunting on council-owned land, which makes up some 23,070 acres, including the Council farms estate (10,700 acres) and the countryside estate (6,472 acres).
The petition, which boasted having ‘10,000’ signatures initially sparked concerns from rural campaigners after it was found that many signatures included no residency details, while others listed locations as being from outside Cornwall, with some as far away as South Africa.
A debate found cross-party support for trail hunting to continue, with councillors from the Conservative, Independent and Mebyon Kernow groups speaking passionately in support of the activity during the meeting. The council voted in support of a recommendation to enable the Leader of the Council to make an executive decision on the matter.
Following a consultation process, the Leader of the Council has recommended that the Council will continue to permit Council Farm tenants to decide whether or not to permit trail hunting across their agricultural holding, a position which remains unchanged.
Where land is owned and managed by the council the officers responsible for the management of the land make the decision to allow or not allow trail hunting on the land in line with the overall management plan of the land. It is not thought that the particular land to which this refers, including public parks, currently applies to any Cornish Hunt.
Going forward, the Council will work together with the hunts to review the hunts’ annual indicative plan of trail hunting events and formal gatherings in advance of the season commencing, such that all parties can agree which events should request licensing and provide time for the hunt to submit the required documentation.
Hunt representatives have also agreed to notify the Council through the event notification form process of all events which will require the securing of the highway for exclusive use and that no such event will take place without a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order (TTRO) having been issued.
Despite the vast bulk of trail hunting taking place on privately-owned land, rural campaigners and the hunts have welcomed Cornwall Council’s formal decision today. Due to the sheer popularity of special hunt meets, including those taking place on Boxing Day, local masters of the hunt are keen to ensure that events take place smoothly with limited disruption to their local communities.
Currently in Cornwall there are five active hunts. Their activities include trail hunting and hunt rides. They provide a service to the livestock farming community in respect of fallen stock.
Polly Portwin, who manages the Countryside Alliance’s Campaign for Hunting said: “We welcome the Leader’s report and decision and thank the council for the opportunity to speak directly to officers about trail hunting in Cornwall. It is important that misinformation spread by anti-groups is effectively countered.”
“Trail hunting’s popularity in Cornwall is growing and as a community-centred activity, the hunting community is in total support of working with the council to ensure all future events that may require road closures, are done so through the correct channels.”
“Banning a lawful activity would be a direct attack on rural people and we were pleased to see so many councillors expressing their support and understanding for our community during the debate back in January.”
Local councillors also expressed their support for the Leader’s decision.
Conservative councillor for Liskeard Central, Nick Craker, said: "Trail hunting is an important part of the Cornish rural way of life. Banning it would have been completely the wrong decision and one which I am pleased the Leader of Cornwall Council has dismissed outright".
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