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Wild Justice suffer yet another legal defeat: their attempt to challenge burning rules is thrown out



It really does feel like Groundhog Day, but once again we hear that Wild Justice have failed in their latest court proceedings.

The trio of Chris Packham, Mark Avery and Ruth Tingay had yet again attempted to appeal the High Court’s decision last month to refuse permission for a judicial review of the heather burning regulations. This is the third time that Wild Justice have been refused by the High Court on the same topic – begging the question why they are still being allowed to waste time and money on the topic.

Today, Rt Hon Lord Justice Males dismissed their latest legal challenge, stating that an appeal “would have no real prospect of success”. This is something that Wild Justice should surely have already known, as two legal professionals had already thrown out their attempts to challenge Defra’s burning rules.

The four organisations which had previously been granted "interested party" status – namely BASC, the Countryside Alliance, the Moorland Association, and the National Gamekeepers' Organisation – welcomed the decision and highlighted the fact that prescribed burning is an essential tool in the successful management of any upland habitat. “We firmly believe that prescribed burning is an essential tool for those managing our uplands and we want to ensure these land managers continue to have access to the right tools at the right time,” said a spokesman.

The decision comes shortly after the release of a study from the University of Cambridge which revealed that controlled burning causes changes in soil composition which as well as offsetting immediate carbon losses, can lock in or increase carbon in the soils of forests and grasslands. This is in addition to the previously well-established benefits that prescribed burning brings in relation to wildfire prevention and creating a mosaic habitat that encourages a diverse range of wildlife, and bird life in particular.

In addition to seeing Wild Justice’s latest appeal attempt defeated, the organisations who worked to defend the challenges brought by Wild Justice – namely the Moorland Association (MA), British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), Countryside Alliance (CA), and National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO) – have now also officially received £1,100 legal costs awarded to them by the court when the original Wild Justice challenge was refused last year. The money has been donated to the Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust.