The shocking cost of defending Wild Justice’s failed attack on the General Licences in Wales has been exposed by our sister publication Shooting Times.
The anti-shooting campaign group brought the action in the hope of having the licences declared ‘unlawful’ by the court thereby forcing their withdrawal.
However the Judge rejected all of the group’s claims. In a subsequent costs order the group were ordered to pay £10,000 the maximum allowed under the Aarhus convention.
Responding to a freedom of information request from Shooting Times, Natural Resources Wales explained that they were unable to calculate the full cost of defending the action due to the number of staff hours that were spent on it, however the external legal advice they needed and their court representation took £145,000 away from the Agency’s efforts to protect the Welsh Environment.
Welsh game shot and wildfowler Gethin Jones was furious at the waste of money. Gethin told Shooting Times: “This sum represents a massive and totally unnecessary expense for what is well-known to be a cash-strapped Welsh government agency.
The action brought by Wild Justice achieved absolutely nothing in terms of conservation value and the minor clarification concerning the Welsh GLs could just have effectively been achieved by a simple, and cost-free, exchange of emails. This expense will be nothing but detrimental to conservation in Wales”
BASC Wales Director Steve Griffiths agreed with Gethin. Steve told Shooting Times: “BASC stated from the start that this judicial review was an unnecessary diversion for NRW in a time of a national pandemic. Those funds could have gone towards tangible conservation efforts, improving Welsh biodiversity. Instead resources have been wasted with nothing to show.”
Andrew Gilruth, Director of Communications at he GWCT, explained what £145,000 could have been spent on. Andrew remarked: “To put such a financial burden on wildlife agencies—and the taxpayer—at this time is disgraceful.
“The money NRW have been forced to waste on legal advice would be far better spent on conserving the species the General Licences aim to protect.
“£145,000 would be enough for us to run a comprehensive two-year study into curlew declines—including the salary of a postdoctoral scientist. What gives curlew a better future—working towards their conservation or wasting taxpayer’s money on legal wrangles?”