Surrey shoots end at National Trust's Polesden Lacey

Polesden Lacey
Image caption The National Trust said it wanted visitors to use areas that the shooting group currently enjoys

A shooting group has accused the National Trust of ending their field sport at a Surrey stately home because the estate manager "does not like it".

The National Trust has ended the lease for the Polesden Lacey Shooting Syndicate, which shoots in the grounds of Polesden Lacey, near Dorking.

Shoot captain Andy Courtney said the harmless sport had gone on for decades.

The National Trust said the decision was not personal but was aimed at increasing visitors to the estate.

Peter Nixon, director of conservation for the charity, said the National Trust had shooting events at many of its properties throughout the country.

He said hundreds of thousands of people visited Polesden Lacey, "a wonderful green oasis" on the edge of suburbia, and there was potential for them to enjoy the areas that the shoot currently enjoyed.

He said: "The nature of shooting will be deterring people from doing that.

"It's the carrying of guns, the letting off of guns in an inevitably unpredictable way, and the deployment of beaters who by their very nature make a noise.

"It's nothing to do with us being worried about the offence they may cause or the principle of shooting. It's the practicalities of wanting to welcome as many visitors as possible to that beautiful landscape."

'Tradition of 40 years'

Mr Courtney said visitor numbers had grown at the estate while the shoot had been there.

He said: "The shoot has been there for generations and to my knowledge, we cause no inconvenience to anybody."

He said shoots took place in winter, far away from public areas, and had been held at the estate for 40 years.

"I honestly believe it's the estate manager at Polesden Lacey who simply doesn't like shooting and finds it easier to get rid of us," he said.

"We really are upset. The trust is just wiping clean a shoot that's harmless and causes no problems and has gone on for generations."

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