A Freedom of Information request from the Countryside Alliance has discovered the recent petition to ban pheasant shooting on Welsh public land was manipulated by people outside of Wales, resulting in a direct impact on Welsh Government policy decisions.
Of 12,706 signatures, only 1,487 had Welsh postcodes, with a staggering 88.3% of the total signatures from people outside of Wales. Almost 1,000 of the total signatures were also addressed from outside of the UK.
As a result of less than 0.05% of the Welsh population supporting the petition, Natural Resources Wales were asked by the then Welsh Labour Government Minister, Hannah Blythyn AM, to reverse their original decision to allow the continuation of leases for pheasant shooting.
(Picture from LMFieldsports.com)
This decision ignored the extensive evidence-based review which demonstrated that game shooting contributes to the Sustainable Management of Natural Resources.
Commenting, Shadow Minister for the Environment and Rural Affairs, Andrew RT Davies AM, said:
“This extraordinary FOI from the Countryside Alliance regrettably shows this petition was nothing less than a sham.
“As a result of obtaining over 11,000 signatures from outside Wales – nearly 90 per cent of the total petition – a legitimate activity proven to help manage our natural resources has been stopped, with a number of jobs lost.
“The petitions system in the National Assembly is a vitally important avenue for the general public to voice their views and opinions but it must not be open to abuse as seems to have been the case on this occasion.
“The Welsh Labour Government’s decision to intervene in this matter was highly controversial and it’s now clear that it didn’t just lack scientific basis, but it also didn’t have the legitimate backing of people across Wales.”