I'd be happy to be proved wrong, but to me the key is the mention just of European protected sites from a Government all about "taking back control": and if their intentions are honourable, why not include nationally protected sites - SSSI, NNR, County Trust areas..... the deliberate lacunae signal the intent as far as I can see.
What are we celebrating here? I’ve sped read all 3 Witness Reports and can only see extra monitoring and licensing regimes to protect vegetation and soil/invertebrates inside a 500m release buffer zone. (Released birds don’t generally stray beyond that anyway). There is apparently ‘no evidence’ to suggest the release of game birds has a negative impact on ‘the wider landscape’. I see no where in the reports, mention of the impact of game shooting on nesting raptors and a missed opportunity to enshrine penalties/disqualifications/removal of licences in the event of raptor persecution. All the evidence gathered is concluded as minimal or moderate with any singular disturbance (eg a pair of dead HH) and any direct impacts from game bird release (i.e. physical damage to habitats from birds and loss/disturbance to individual animals) during a single season are unlikely, on their own, to be considered to be sufficiently significant to result in a permanent of long-term negative impact on the SSSI or European site features”. In other words, it will take more than one season’s worth of disturbance before the licencing regime kicks in to prevent further releases.
The strongest wording is relating to the benefits - “There is strong evidence of associated benefits for biodiversity from general woodland management associated with shooting.“
So it helps protect the vegetation and soil in the immediate vicinity of the pens and release site. ....and provides for monitoring and the licensing regime.
It also, provides for compensation to the shooting industry for loss of income due to Covid including for next season too - so not only does the game industry get to ignore Covid lockdown restrictions but they also get compensated for loss of income if they have to release less game birds. It’s all a bit screwy imo!
My highlighting this was mainly down to the celebration by the founder members of WildJustice who are all very experienced in their different fields and come across as this is a good start to a campaign in bringing the shooting industry under some form of control in regard to conservation of native flora and fauna - perhaps even a bigger picture longterm. BACS will most likely appeal....they have a wealthy membership.