Shoot to pay £165k for harming protected site

20th September 2011

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  • Environment agencies ,
  • Prosecution ,
  • Corporate fine ,
  • Biodiversity



A firm that runs a pheasant shoot in Yorkshire and its director have been fined thousands of pounds for damaging a site of special scientific interest (SSSI).

In a prosecution brought by Natural England, York Crown Court heard that between 2006 and 2009 Yorks Sport illegally introduced tens of thousands of birds into the Ferndale Estate, significantly reducing vegetation in woodland renowned for its wild daffodils.

After being told that it was unlikely that they would receive permission to release 12,000 pheasants in 2004, the firm did not reapply to Natural England for consent, but continued to introduce new birds in order to boost profits from the shoot.

“We appreciate that shooting makes an important contribution to the economy and landscape of rural areas,” said Janette Ward, Natural England’s regulation director.

“In this case, however, the sheer number of pheasants released was unsustainable and so damaging that a prosecution had to be brought.”

Tim Russell, director of conservation at the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, condemned the actions of York Sports and its director, Michael Wood.

“All shoots have a responsibility to understand the importance of protected sites and to work with conservation agencies to ensure shooting is compatible with such sites,” he said. “People need to be aware of the rules and they need to make sure they abide by them."

While disputing the amount of damage caused to the SSSI, the firm and Michael Wood admitted seven offences, including building a car park and bridges without permission, as well as using vehicles and changing the game management of the site.

The judge fined the firm and its director £20,000 each, and ordered them to pay £125,000 in costs.


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