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DEFRA’s crisis over general licences is helping to kill the rural vote for the Tories. Charlie Jacoby had two chats with BASC staff Gareth Dockerty, Ian Bell and Dr Marnie Lovejoy on the stage at the Carter Jonas Game Fair Theatre in July 2023.

Between them, they explain what GL43 is, how the system of general licences has lost trust with its client base, the people who live in the countryside, and how DEFRA is doubling down on getting it so badly wrong.

They cover the GL43 licensing framework, how many shoots are affected and how they are affected. Ian explains releasing on protected sites and points out that this is the third time the government has pulled the general licences since 2019.

Gareth is on the front line, dealing with shoots. He talks about what the shoots saying to him and on what passes for the appeals process with DEFRA. He also discusses the social cost to the countryside of DEFRA’s actions and whether shoots will survive.

BASC is taking legal action against DEFRA. It has a judicial review underway, especially on the subject of the process, the lack of consultation, and details such as why DEFRA is using avian influenza figures from 2022 to make decisions about bird release in 2023.

For Marnie, the decision may come from government but this is clearly the conservation industry chipping away at shooting.


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