Judicial review of Natural England’s refusal to issue buzzard-killing licence to be heard in June

High-Court-LondonThe judicial review concerning Natural England’s decision to refuse a gamekeeper a licence to shoot buzzards and sparrowhawks to protect his pheasants will take place during a three-day hearing at the High Court in London in June.

The gamekeeper, Ricky McMorn from Northumberland, has received financial support from the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation to bring this review and challenge Natural England’s handling of his licence applications.

A quick recap: in 2013, Natural England secretly provided Mr McMorn with a licence to destroy buzzard eggs and nests in order to ‘protect a pheasant shoot’ in Northumberland.

Later in 2013, Natural England received an application for four more licences, this time to shoot 16 buzzards and three sparrowhawks. Natural England rejected the application.

In 2014, Natural England refused another licence application, this time to shoot ten buzzards to prevent “serious damage” to pheasant poults.

It is these refusals that are being challenged in the judicial review.

Previous blogs on this issue:

25 November 2014: Buzzard licence applicant gets High Court approval for judicial review.

1 October 2013: Why we don’t trust the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation.

26 September 2013: Buzzard licence applicant tries for four more licences.

13 August 2013: Natural England claims release of buzzard licence info ‘not in public interest’.

20 June 2013: Hand in of buzzard petition today at Holyrood.

5 June 2013: Natural England says no to buzzard-killing licence.

5 June 2013: Surely the buzzard licence applicant doesn’t have prior convictions for poison offences?

3 June 2013: Buzzard licensing: turning up the heat.

30 May 2013: Two important questions to ask about the buzzard licence applicant.

25 May 2013: New petition: SNH, do not licence buzzard culling in Scotland.

23 May 2013: Natural England issues licence to destroy buzzard eggs and nests to protect pheasants.

10 January 2013: The buzzard blame game.

13 June 2012: #Buzzardgate aftermath.

30 May 2012: DEFRA backs down on buzzard ‘management’ trial.

24 May 2012: DEFRA responds to public outcry over buzzard ‘management’ trial.

23 May 2012: RSPB response to DEFRA’s proposed (illegal) buzzard trial.

21 May 2012: Buzzard ‘management’ trial gets govt approval and £375K funding.

10 Responses to “Judicial review of Natural England’s refusal to issue buzzard-killing licence to be heard in June”

  1. 2 Mr Greer Hart, senior
    April 27, 2015 at 12:47 am

    If this were to be granted, then a precedent would be set for England, and it would be a waste of time conserving any wild creature, if some case could be put that an “economic” activity was under threat from functioning properly due to “vermin” reducing the numbers of whatever game bird was being adversely affected. In Scotland, the same bunch that controls our landscape for shooting purposes, have created the case that they contribute millions to the national economy, and our politicians buy it. The same dross is put forward by the fish farmers who shoot seals and other creatures that may threaten their productivity. The fishing industry itself has those who shoot seals to make way for more fish to be available for human consumption, when it is over-fishing and climate change that have been affecting fish stocks.

    The message could be that all the success we have had in conserving birds, mammals, butterflies, old woodlands and rare plants, has been just a waste of time, and that Government conservation bodies such as SNH, have no clout at all, as someone in the Establishment will order surrender to the protected shooting industry. We are witnessing such “silencing” of outspoken individuals, officers of the law and others who have evidence about some gross malpractice or miscarriages of justice. It is on the telly every evening news and in the press, items about events long past, being resurrected because there are those who have the courage to take on the Establishment, and game shooting is well-engrained with that mob.

    By the way, there has been nothing mentioned by all the parties involved in the run up to this 2015 General Election, on how the landscape of the UK should be monitored and a progressive policy of decommsioning activities of those estates that will not acknowledge the rule of law, and the modern attitude towards blood sports, especially when it involves the wholesale slaughter of creatures like Mountain Hares and Birds of Prey. World wide, the activities and power of game shooting is increasing rapidly with tribal peoples being moved off their traditional lands to create shooting estates and safari parks, e.g. the Maasai in Tanzania. That power and influence we have to restrain and bring down in a modern Britain. We have to create a meaningful alternative to country sports on an industrial scale, and reduce those activities to a smaller scale compatible with the existence of wildlife. They smother humane members of the public by blandishments about humans coming first and the NHS and the eradication of poverty are the main priorities. It is time these characters who seek political office stop using these gimmicks to escape facing important humane and ethical issues.

  2. 3 John
    April 27, 2015 at 9:52 am

    It is worth noting – whatever one’s personal position on where the balance should be struck – that ‘reasonably satisfactory’ solutions as judged by the neutral observer (and the law) will never be *satisfying* to all concerned.

  3. 4 Anand Prasad
    April 27, 2015 at 9:56 am

    There should be a judicial review on DEFRA/NE allowing the destruction of Buzzards or their nests in Norfolk and Northumberland both by people with poisoning offences. Unbelievable, except i am pessimistic and realistic enough to believe the High Court will support the gamekeepers.

    • 5 Anand Prasad
      April 27, 2015 at 10:02 am

      Maybe i am getting confused because of the refusal at one time to release the location. I thought there was also a similar licence given in Norfolk.

  4. April 27, 2015 at 12:03 pm

    I have sent a letter to my ex MP in the event he may be re-elected.

    The gamekeepers and shooting estates have raised a Judicial Review to challenge Natural England’s unwillingness to issue licences to kill our protected birds.
    The shooting estates use 34 million pheasants for shooting each year. They continue to persecute birds of prey under licence and illegally (frequently without penalty).
    Something needs to be done about this sad industry. Pigeon shooting was replaced by clay pigeon many years ago. Pheasant shooting is little different from the banned pigeon shooting. Pheasants are driven from their woodland areas towards shooters. Many are wounded and suffer cruelly.
    Richard Benyon tried to use government funds to destroy buzzards while he was a DEFRA Minister. Such is the stupid mentality of the shooting industry.
    Please do something to stop the shooting industry from destroying our birds of prey.

    • 7 Les Wallace
      April 27, 2015 at 12:51 pm

      Fingers crossed I hope to be presenting a motion at the Friends of the Earth Scotland AGM on 16th of May that they initiate a formal campaign to deal with Ecological Malpractice of Scottish Sporting Estates. They have the best position of any Scottish organisation to spearhead actions against the estates, at present they are unusual for not having any campaigns re natural environment and wildlife, where many other national FoE orgs do although their problems are not as severe as ours. Perhaps people should be asking why FoES is doing nothing at present about the ravaged landscape covering much of Scotland? Serious omission on their part.

  5. 8 Jimmy
    April 30, 2015 at 12:22 am

    I would hope the judges hearing the case would declare any shooting sports interests. Probably being a bit optimistic on that point though:(

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