Conservationists launch Wild Justice

Wild Justice, a not-for-profit company set up by; TV presenter, photographer and wildlife campaigner Chris Packham CBE; author, blogger and campaigner Dr Mark Avery; and blogger, researcher and wildlife campaigner Dr Ruth Tingay is launched today (Wednesday 13 February).

Wild Justice exists to take legal cases on behalf of wildlife against public bodies where they are failing to protect species and/or habitats.

Wild Justice is working with legal teams in England and Scotland. Legal action will be funded by public donations and crowdfunding appeals.

Chris Packham was awarded the CBE for services to nature conservation in the recent New Years Honours.

Mark Avery has taken two legal challenges against Natural England in the past 12 months with solicitors Leigh Day. The first has already been won: Natural England signed an agreement with a grouse moor in West Yorkshire that involved a track being built across the grouse moor. Dr Avery claimed that the track was unlawful under the EU Habitats Directive and Natural England were forced to change their position and now oppose the track being built. The second challenge was a judicial review of a scheme to manage the broods of the threatened Hen Harrier on grouse moors – that case is awaiting judgment after three days of a hearing in the High Court.

Ruth Tingay co-led the 2018 legal challenge against Scottish Natural Heritage’s decision to licence the culling of ravens on grouse moors in Strathbraan, Perthshire; a challenge which attracted widespread public support and funding. The scientific justification for the licence was deemed “completely inadequate” and “seriously flawed” by SNH’s own scientific advisory committee, resulting in the licence holders voluntarily suspending the cull and SNH accepting that killing protected species “just to see what happens” was insufficient justification for authorising this and similar culls.

Chris Packham said ‘Wild. Justice. Because the wild needs justice more than ever before. The pressures wrought upon our wildlife have reached a crisis point and this is an essential response. The message is clear . . . if you are breaking the law, if the law is weak, if the law is flawed – we are coming for you. Peacefully, democratically and legally. Our simple premise is to work with the laws we’ve got to seek real justice for our wildlife, to reform, refine or renew those laws we have to ensure that justice can be properly realised. Our wildlife has been abused, has been suffering, exploited or destroyed by criminals for too long. Well, no longer. Wild Justice will at last be the voice of those victims and it will be heard . . . and justice will be served. ‘.

Mark Avery said ‘Wild Justice will take on public bodies to get a better deal for wildlife. It’s a shame that we have to do this but we have little confidence that statutory bodies are fulfilling their functions properly. We aim to hold their feet to the fire in court. I’m reminded of what the great American environmental campaigner, Ansel Adams said ‘It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment’.’.

Ruth Tingay said ‘I know many people who despair about what’s happening to our wildlife but who also feel powerless to help, typically because access to justice can be prohibitively expensive and a daunting arena. Wild Justice provides an opportunity for ordinary citizens to fight back on behalf of wildlife, collectively helping us to challenge poor decisions or flawed policies that threaten to harm our wildlife. With so many potential cases, the difficulty for us will be to decide which ones to take on first’.


13 Feburary 2019

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