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Labour ignores rural priorities

The Countryside Alliance has raised concerns about Labour's Animal Welfare Plan published on 14 February.

The Plan contains 50 policies for wild, farmed, and domestic animals, including for the first time policies to restrict game shooting and a commitment to 'strengthen' the Hunting Act. The Countryside Alliance will be responding to these proposals as part of a consultation launched by Shadow Environment Secretary, Sue Hayman MP.

The Countryside Alliance supports high standards of animal welfare, but is concerned about Labour's commitment "to make sure that the UK has equal and better animal rights across the world."

Tim Bonner, Chief Executive, of the Countryside Alliance commented: "It is sad that Labour's focus on wildlife and the countryside remains firmly motivated by politics, rather than farming, rural communities and real animal welfare issues. There are a number of sensible animal welfare policies in Labour's Plan but these have been conflated with an animal rights agenda.

"The Plan reveals a set of priorities that are at odds with most people in rural areas. There is not a single mention in this document of the epidemic of sheep worrying by domestic dogs, the widespread problems of poaching and associated criminality, the impact of sky lanterns on domestic and wild animals, or the horrific cost to cattle, farmers and the taxpayer of bovine TB. Some Labour MPs have identified that Labour has a 'rural problem', but the party seems determined to continue to ignore issues which are actually important for animal welfare and rural people.

"We hope that the consultation which Labour has announced will be open and engage with a much wider set of views. It is, however, a shame that it has started from here."

With reference to the comments on shooting Liam Stokes, Countryside Alliance's Head of Shooting said: "Labour's Animal Welfare Plan is a very concerning development. While we are glad that the more extreme elements of the anti-shooting campaign have been ignored, the proposal to ban "intensive rearing of game birds" is ill-defined, runs contrary to the scientific evidence on game farming practices and could have enormous consequences for game farming and shooting in this country. There are people within the party who are working hard to boost Labour's rural appeal, and yet here we have their efforts being undermined by the Labour Party bringing forward proposals to restrict shooting for the first time and ignoring genuinely rural issues."

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