Law Commission suggests wildlife law overhaul

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Law Commission has published an extensive report entitled ‘Wildlife Law’ and a draft legislative Bill incorporating the recommendations set out in the report. The news has been met with caution by shooting and gamekeeping organisations, which have expressed concern that the Bill may be problematic in its implementation.

The report and Bill from the Law Commission seek to simplify wildlife law across all aspects, consolidating existing legislation into one statute.

Law Commissioner Nicholas Paines describes the new Bill as an attempt to “sweep away the confused and contradictory patchwork of existing legislation to provide a balance between the needs of the people who manage wildlife and those who want to protect it.”

The proposed legislative changes are vast, but the new laws would supersede current regulations such as the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010, the Protection of Badgers Act 1992, the Deer Act 1991 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation described its reaction as mixed: “some of the proposals are good, some are bad, and may others require further analysis.” Lindsay Waddell, chairman of the NGO, said: “The NGO supports the principle of streamlining wildlife law, but we are scrutinising the fine print. The good news in this respect is that many of our recommendations to the Law Commission have been adopted.

“We should not ignore the possibility, however, that this legislation might be hijacked during its passage through Parliament, should it get that far. But such is the scope of this substantial and immensely detailed body of work, that Parliamentary time might never be found for it.”

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) has also reacted to the publication of the report and Bill. Chairman Alan Jarrett said: “BASC will carefully review the recommendations to ensure that any unintended consequences are fully identified before any of the recommendations are taken forward by government.

“BASC notes that once such legislation is introduced to parliament it will be open to amendment. There are therefore no guarantees that the measures contained in the draft Bill will survive that process.

“BASC will be talking to all political parties to ensure that the interests of shooting are protected if legislation is taken forward.”

More information on the proposed changes can be found at the Law Comission’s official website.

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