Wild Justice makes further progress with general licences – this time in Wales

His Honour Justice Jarman handed down a very significant judgment today on Welsh general licences – see Wild Justice blog for details.

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33 Replies to “Wild Justice makes further progress with general licences – this time in Wales”

  1. Wild Justice makes further progress with general licences – this time in Wales?

    BASC hails High Court decision as a victory for the countryside?

    One of you are telling porkies?

    Maybe both?

    At least BASC got the judges name correct HH JUDGE JARMAN QC.

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  2. Further reading -

    https://naturalresources.wales/about-us/news-and-events/news/court-rules-that-nrw-general-licences-are-lawful/?lang=en&utm_source=LinkedIn&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=Orlo

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  3. Ditto, well done Wild Justice. Terrific work yet again again another set back for the shooters of wildlife for fun. Yet again, as you say Mark it puts pressure back on Defra. What a dreadful lot they are, Scotland and Wales are progressing in the right direction, thanks very much to Wild Justice.
    Defra are indeed a dreadful lot, stuck in the Victorian age because their political allies and very many Tories (not all) are those who like to kill our wildlife for fun

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    1. I'm not clear in what respect NRW are in advance of NE with regards to the GLs. As I understand it, the 2020 general licences for England included an explicit condition that lethal control was to be used only where alternative non-lethal methods had been considered/attempted but shown to not be practicable or effective but the Welsh one did not. Failure of NRW to include this was one of WJ's grounds for challenge if I understand correctly (Ground 2). In other respects the GLs issued by NE and NRW were similar.

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      1. Jonathan - you are right (nmainly because you've read the stuff I guess!).

        DEFRA have that condition because of the first Wild Justice challenge to the Natural England licences in 2019. NRW haven't caught up with that yet. But NRW led the way in clarifying the link in the consevation licences to species of conservation concern which is generally a helpful move.

        Wild Justice may well be contacting other authorities about other general licences soon...

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  4. PS. I think your “ damning with feint praise” of BASC, is just right , exactly on the button.

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  5. Where do you think you made progress with?

    https://basc.org.uk/download/288054/
    And
    https://basc.org.uk/basc-hails-high-court-decision-as-a-victory-for-the-countryside/

    Basc look to disagree with you.

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    1. John - BASC argued that the licences allowed anywhere, anytime killing of species on the general licence (my words, not theirs, but that's the gist) whereas Wild Justice's action forced NRW to state that they didn't and the court agreed. It seemes that if NRW had not given the court the background, unpublished, information on their intentions for the licences then the licences would not have been lawful - tht's my interpretation anyway. That is why Justice jarman drew attention to those matters in the passages in the Wild Justice blog - only kill Carrion Crows at times of year when they are threatening eggs and chicks and only in those places. That is a massive step forward in limiting the scope of general licences in Wales and potentially in the rest of the UK.

      BASC were largely irrelevant in this case except for being on the wrong side of that argument. And it cost them £140k I see. Phew!

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      1. Just like it cost you 35k for the British High Court challenge didn't see you publishing that or the bad comments the judge made about Wild Justice

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        1. Steve - I assume you are talking about the legal challenge over gamebird releases which caused DEFRA to announce that it will list Pheasant and Red-legged Partridge on Schedule 9 of WCA meaning that a licence will be needed to release them - and so that numbers and locations of non-native gamebird releases will be regulated for the first time? That was a monumental change to the status quo.

          The DEFRA consultation will emerge in February and we'll be encouraging people respond to it.

          Wild Justice is in conversation with DEFRA about details.

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          1. Mike - thank you. I think if I had loads of money then I'd have bought this result for £35k very happily. But nothing is certain in the law - especially the edges of what is clear and understood which is where Wild Justice operates, and has to in order to make a difference.

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      2. So if I read this right, and please correct me if I'm wrong, the court ruled that the licence was legal if used correctly but WJ proved that the licence was open to illegal use because of bad wording which now has to be amended and hopefully enforced. BASC spent £140k of their members's money to told they were advising their members to illegally use the licence but claim victory even though their input was not relevant to the judgement?

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        1. Wrong; The Conclusion of the case is at paragraph 67 of the judgement , The judge said, Accordingly the claim fails.
          Wlid Justice lost on all three counts and have decided not to appeal the decision.
          The Welsh government General Licenses were lawful.

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          1. John - the Welsh government licences are lawful and (perhaps because they) require them to be used only under circumstances of present risk. Today, thanks to Wild Justice's challenge, the casual killing of wild birds is further constrained.

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  6. Mark
    No mention of any amendments to licences from NRW either according to their webpage

    https://naturalresources.wales/about-us/news-and-events/news/court-rules-that-nrw-general-licences-are-lawful/?lang=en

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  7. "commnet" from GWCT on the matter...
    https://www.gwct.org.uk/blogs/news/2021/january/welsh-general-licences-deemed-lawful,-as-high-court-rules-against-wild-justice/

    which is presumably their spin on it all... I find getting the GWCT newsletter into my inbox always provides a bit of light reading......

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  8. Mark

    Not sure on your definition of a victory

    Interesting for your readers to have a look at the judgement in full if they can spare the time. (16 pages of it)

    https://basc.org.uk/download/288054/

    In summary in case they are short on time they should just look at the below

    Page 4 mentions that there are 3 grounds of challenge brought by Wild Justice

    Page 12 mentions that on ground one the judge is not persuaded that the licences are unlawful

    Page 14 says that ground 2 is not made out

    And page 16 says that the conclusion to all of this is that the claim FAILS

    And still no sign of NRW making any amendments to this years licences?

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    1. Ade - the full judgment is also on the Wild Justice blog thanks, as are the passages that demonstrate the leap forward in what the licence covers according to NRW, and Wild Justicve and now the court. Do you think you can use the Welsh GL004 tpoday to kill a Carrion Crow? No, apparently it is not designed for you to do so.

      Could you have used it last week to kill a Carrion Crow, well there wouldn't have been anything before this judgment that told you you couldn't.

      And BASC argued themselves blue in the face on this point.

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      1. I agree with what you are saying but if you were killing crows at this time of year you wouldn’t be using the terms of GL004 anyway. You wouldn’t be doing it to conserve other birds, the crows aren’t a threat to other birds at this time of year basic countryside knowledge tells you this, surely you are using GL001 which is unaffected by timing in the year as far as I understand it, so controlling crows would be permitted.

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        1. Ade - wy do you think that GL001 is unaffected by this judgment? And why do you think that those operating under GL004 have only restricted heir activities to the beeding season? Are you telling me that there is no gamekeeper's crow trap running in Wales today?

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          1. Mark, I have seen no mention of GL001 being applied on a seasonal basis although I could have missed it. My understanding of the way the countryside works is that attacks on livestock and livestock foodstuffs could occur 365 days a year and would therefore require corvids to be controlled at any of those times hence why there are no timings applied?
            In my experience gamekeepers are rather busy during the shooting season and have other more important things relating to their livelihood to be doing rather than expending effort catching crows that are not causing them any particular issues during these months of the year. Any crow trapping done at this time is done at the behest of farmers who are having issues around livestock.

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    2. Again I have to question your definition of a victory? Would the victors in a court case be ordered the pay the maximum of £10,000 in costs to their opponents (in this case Natural Resources Wales). I have to say that you were lucky it wasn’t more as it appears a cap limit of £10,000 is set for environmental cases.

      Perhaps a correction to the result of the hearing will be forthcoming via the Wild Justice blog, but some how I doubt it.

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      1. Ade - you shouldn't rely on BASC nonsense for your views https://basc.org.uk/wild-justice-forced-to-pay-legal-costs/ £10,000 is actually more like the minimum costs that could be awarded for a case of this size as the court has the power to increase costs. Justice Jarman didn't feel any need to do that and complimented Wild Justice's barrister on his/our arguments and ended his judgment thus 'I end by recording my grateful thanks to all counsel for their thorough yet focussed submissions, written and oral, in this interesting case'.

        You'll have to point out to me what needs changing in the Wild Justice blog - I can't see anything myself.

        While we are talking about costs I cannot possibly resist pointing out that BASC claim to have spent £140,000+ on this one case. Are you a member? Do you feel you got good value? That's up to you but as Wild Justice say 'In passing, Wild Justice would like to thank BASC for their intervention in this case. In our opinion, BASC’s presence did nothing to change the course of this court case, which hinged on the law, except that it made it abundantly clear that BASC wished the licences to be interpreted in a much broader way with none of the restrictions of time of year or location that NRW, Wild Justice and now the court understand them to have. We thank BASC for demonstrating the impacts of the vagueness of the current published NRW licences.' We woud rate BASC's contribution to our case as 'priceless'.

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        1. I have to say Mark, I am just a simple layperson in the ways of the law but if a Judge says the claim fails and awards costs of £10,000 against the claimant I myself would not be taking that as a victory. I bow to your obvious greater knowledge and experience in these legal matters.

          We can still trap / Shoot crows year round in Wales under the terms of the two general licences, would that be the case if the BASC had not got involved I’m not sure. But from where I’m standing, crow control continues unchanged so I feel you have achieved very little, if in fact anything at all and the BASC’s £140,000 is money well spent.

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          1. Ade - you cannot trap Carrion Crows etc in Wales under the conservation licence except in the breeding season. If you do then you are acting outside the limits of the licence and may open yourself up to prosecution (particularly after this discussion shpws that you have been made aware of that). NRW should be making that clear as the licensing authority and Wild Justice will be meeting NRW in February.

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  9. This is what mark is referring to:
    Mr Corner QC with Ms Sargent, on behalf of NRW, submit that the licences only authorise action where there is a present risk to the stated interests. Thus, in the example given above NRW accepts that the relevant licence (004) should be used only to kill crows during the months between egg laying and when the chicks are well grown, namely April to July, and only in those areas where curlews nest, which do not extend to urban areas. It should not permit someone to kill a crow in the autumn or in an urban area on the basis that that bird might someday at some place take a curlew’s egg or chick. NRW has decided not to set out this level of detail in the licences, saying that it is for the licensee to show by objective evidence that an egg or chick was at real risk to justify the killing, and it is for the criminal courts to assess the evidence in any given case. NRW says that it is a matter of judgment for it as the appropriate authority in Wales to decide on the appropriate level of detail set out in the licences.

    However re last paragraph does not mean NRW will alter the wording of GL004.
    Also are curlew’s now going to sleep so much better thinking crows will not be controlled outside April to July? Was it really a win for them?

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    1. John - it's very kind of you to copy the Wild Justice blog onto these comments but it really isn't necessary, thanks.

      But if it were, then the bits about private prosecutions might be relevant too.

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