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Minister ducks meeting with BASC and the Countryside Alliance

In yet another attempt to distance herself from the trouble she has caused for Natural Resources Wales (NRW), Welsh Labour's Environment Minister Hannah Blythyn has cancelled next week's meeting with the Countryside Alliance and the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC).

This extraordinary turn of events makes it even more important that everyone who lives in Wales, or has contributed to the Welsh rural economy, signs our campaign to reverse NRW's pheasant shooting ban.

Hannah Blythyn AM was asked to host the meeting by First Minister Carwyn Jones, in response to a letter sent jointly by the Alliance and BASC. The Environment Minister is now claiming that the meeting would be inappropriate because the Alliance, BASC and the National Gamekeeper's Organisation (NGO) are legally challenging NRW's decision to end pheasant shooting on its land.

This joint legal challenge is no reason for the Minister to cancel a meeting she is supposed to be holding at the request of the First Minister. The challenge is to NRW, not the Welsh Government.

Despite having written a letter to the NRW Board asking that they consider the Welsh Government's opposition to pheasant shooting, and despite a meeting on the subject between the Minister's team and the NRW Board that occurred behind closed doors, the Minister has repeatedly attempted to shift the blame for NRW's pheasant shooting ban.

First, at a plenary session in the Assembly on the 26th September, under intense scrutiny from Conservative and Plaid Cymru AMs, the Minister attempted to claim that her actions "did not bind NRW". Then during a short debate on the rural economy on the 8th of November, tabled by Angela Burns AM and focussing in large part on the role of shooting and the NRW decision, the Minister studiously avoided commenting on the issue.

This latest refusal to accept responsibility for her actions discredits the responses being sent by Labour Assembly Members to constituents who are angry with the Government's approach to pheasant shooting on public land. Letters from Labour Assembly Members to their constituents and copied to the Alliance claim that "The Welsh Government will continue to work with stakeholders including the British Association for Shooting and Conservation and the Countryside Alliance."

Of course, should the Government wish to work with the Alliance, as the letters suggest, the Alliance remains committed to resolving this situation by reversing NRW's pheasant shooting ban.

Rachel Evans, Countryside Alliance Wales Director, said: "The Minister has pushed Natural Resource Wales to ignore the evidence on game shooting, evidence that was accumulated and examined using £48,000 of Welsh taxpayer's money. Now NRW have followed her direction, it seems she wants nothing to do with the consequences. Rural voters in Wales deserve better from their Government."

Sign our letter to reverse the Natural Resources Wales decision to ban Pheasant Shooting on public land in Wales here.

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