• C4PMC

Packham’s latest Wild Justice case dismissed and group ordered to pay £10,000 costs

Updated: Oct 21


Chris Packham and his Wild Justice pals of Mark Avery and Ruth Tingay today had their latest case – an attempt to judicial review Defra’s recent burning legislation – thrown out of court. The campaign group were also ordered to pay £10,000 for wasting the court’s time, with the judge saying that none of Wild Justice’s various points were arguable.


The new rules on heather burning (the Heather and Grass Burning Regulations 2021) bans heather burning on areas of deep peat (over 40 cm) in Special Protection Areas and Special Areas of Conservation.


Wild Justice had argued that these new rules did not go far enough, including in their review bid claims that the rules could not be enforced; that there is a legal error in the new regulations; and that the new regulations neglected to consider climate change implications. All of the above points Judge Ian Dove dismissed as not ‘arguable’.


Four rural organisations – BASC, the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, the Countryside Alliance and the Moorland Association – had successfully applied to join the proceedings as interested parties. This meant that the organisations were able to submit evidence to the Judge, who considered this material when reaching his decision.


The material supplied by the above organisations highlighted the benefits of moorland management – including for wildlife and biodiversity, rural economies, rural communities and the wider upland landscape. These benefits will be familiar to many of those reading, and were outlined in the recent research paper from the University of Northampton into the sustainability of driven grouse shooting.


The decision will be disappointing to the trio, who have stated that they “will consider an appeal” – something they will have to do within 7 days.


It is clear from the decision that the arguments made by Wild Justice have no merit – something that anyone who understands the issues of moorland wildfires and controlled burning will have seen from the very beginning.


Packham and co would like to see a complete ban on heather burning on UK moorland, claiming that “the Westminster government is allowing damaging climate-harming activities in the English uplands”. But their arguments completely ignore the work that controlled burning in the moorlands does to prevent wildfires – which are responsible for enormous carbon dioxide emissions.


Globally, carbon emissions from wildfires are at a record high, making the prevention of wildfires an urgent issue. It is no wonder that Wild Justice had their case thrown out. The only question is why they wasted the courts’ time in the first place.


The interested parties agreed that the recovered costs would be donated to the Gamekeepers Welfare Trust.