Top shooting ground faces uncertain future

A SHOOTING range which has trained countless Olympic and Commonwealth medallists faces an uncertain future due to a planning row.

The Nuthampstead Shooting Ground could be used by the Australian and Canadian Olympic teams for training before next year’s games and the husband and wife team who run the club are looking to extend an existing bank to bring the clay pigeon ranges in line with future EU regulation.

In order to do this Martin and Nichola Barker plan to use recycled tyre bales – due to environmental concerns and to limit lorry loads – to catch lead shot but some villagers are concerned the HGVs may prove dangerous.

“Should this planning not get passed, the shooting ground is likely to be closed down due to EU environmental laws,” said Mr Barker, who has lived in the area for all of his 56 years.

“This would affect our family’s livelihood, including our sons – people who have lived, worked, farmed and supported the community for over 50 years.”

The Barkers claim the objection stems from a circular distributed by Barkway Parish Council inaccurately stating lorries would pass down Barkway High Street – but are projected to pass from Buckland.

The planned 12m bund will catch lead shot. Soil from an existing mound will also be used.

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Nuthampstead Shooting Ground, which has Premier Ground status and has hosted national and international shoots for over 20 years, has been looking to build the structure for around 20 years but it’s only since the use of tyres as a building material it has become possible.

It is hoped the structure will catch 90 per cent of shot as opposed to the current 40.

Mr Barker, who has coached Team GB, Scotland and the Isle of Man, said: “We’re aware there has been a lot of inaccuracies and objection from the local villages but they are not looking at the bigger picture.

“It’s infuriating. All the details are there in the project. It’s just a fact of life the way legislation is going in regard to lead shot retrieval.

“We will be the first in the country to do this but it’s quite commonplace in Europe.”

A letter distributed by Barkway Parish Council urges residents to vote against the application, which has gone straight to Herts County Council for a decision because of its size. The parish council said it was made aware of the plans by district councillor Gerald Morris. The Crow tried to contact Cllr Morris but he was not available for comment at the time of going to press.