More than 100 gamekeepers, business owners and local residents met in Llywel last week to hear about the potential impacts of proposals by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to restrict the release of game birds

There was standing room only at the Fedw Equestrian Centre last Thursday, when the crowd heard from various speakers about the ongoing NRW consultation, which closes tomorrow (June 20).

The plans would introduce a licensing system for the release of pheasants and red-legged partridge in Wales.

Representatives from the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), Countryside Alliance and the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation voiced their concerns about the proposals. They spoke about their worries that they had over the damage that could be caused to conservation, the local economy and rural communities through the planned proposals. Speaking on behalf of businesses were Jonathan Greatorex, managing director at The Hand at Llanarmon, and Will Horner, sales manager at Cambrian Birds.

They were joined by politicians Fay Jones, MP for Brecon and Radnorshire and James Evans MS for Brecon and Radnorshire.

A spokesperson for the rural organisations said: “These meetings have happened across Wales throughout the consultation period, and the turnout has been phenomenal.

“There is a groundswell of opposition to these proposals. It is essential that NRW listen to those concerns and follow the evidence with any decision.”

Fay Jones MP said: “It was great to see such a high turnout at the Fedw Equestrian Centre, over one hundred, fora meeting on proposals to effectively restrict gamebird shooting, an integral part of life for many across Brecon and Radnorshire.

"It was impossible to leave with any doubt as to the passion felt by all that the Welsh Government have no business exercising control over this rural way of life, seemingly oblivious to its economic and environmental centrality in regions including Brecon and Radnorshire.

"My thanks again to the panel for their expertise and help in organising, and to the many constituents who attended.”

Gamekeeper Aaron Brookshaw was one of those to attend last week’s meeting. He manages the area of Harpton Estate - a 9,000-acre estate - which is privately owned by the Duff-Gordon family and is situated between Old Radnor and New Radnor.

Aaron is concerned about the proposed regulations and fears that a licensing scheme would lead to shooting ban in Wales.

“If shooting is banned in Wales the landscape that we see in the beautiful countryside is under risk of serious change, as well as risk to our nesting birds,” he said. “Without gamekeeping and the shooting industry, birds like the curlew would have no chance.”

Aaron Brookshaw
Gamekeeper Aaron Brookshaw with canine companion Ki (.)

Harpton Estate’s heather moorland is home to many nesting birds including curlews, lapwings and skylarks. Aaron says that it's gamekeepers and conservationists who have made the biggest strides in curlew conservation.

Aaron also said the shooting community brings people together in the countryside.

“The community works together in estates all over the country - it brings people from all different backgrounds together,” he said. “The positives of this social network out in the countryside, from mental to physical health, speaks for itself.”