Wild Justice – a much needed new NGO
"If you are breaking the law, if the law is weak, if the law is flawed - we are coming for you"
Wild Justice, a new not-for-profit company has been set up by TV presenter and campaigner Chris Packham CBE, author, blogger and campaigner Dr Mark Avery and blogger, researcher and campaigner Dr Ruth Tingay.
Launched today, February 13, Wild Justice exists to take legal cases on behalf of wildlife against public bodies when they fail to protect our natural environment. Legal action will be funded by public donations and crowdfunding appeals.
Chris Packham said ‘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.’
My former RSPB colleague Mark Avery explained that the move is necessary because there is little confidence that statutory bodies are fulfilling their functions properly. Avery has recent form, having taken two legal challenges against Natural England in the past 12 months. The first has already been won: Natural England had allowed a grouse moor owner in West Yorkshire to build a new track across the 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 the infamous brood management scheme aimed at controlling the already threatened and heavily persecuted hen harrier to reduce conflict on grouse moors. Mark is awaiting judgment after a three day hearing in the High Court in December.
Last year his fellow Wild Justice founder Ruth Tingay co-led a legal challenge against Scottish Natural Heritage’s decision to licence the culling of ravens on grouse moors in Strathbraan, Perthshire. 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.
Wild Justice is considering several legal challenges along similar lines and will be announcing its first project in the next few weeks.