The usual alarmist nonsense from the Sunday Times…….. why let the truth get in the way of a story.
18 May 2014 by Kevin Dowling
THE rock star and animal rights campaigner Brian May is preparing to spend £7m to buy one of Britain’s most prestigious shooting estates — so he can close it down. The Queen guitarist wants to buy the Chargot estate in Somerset, where last year paying guests shot up to 40,000 pheasants and partridges and 40 deer. He intends to stop the shoots and transform the estate into a sanctuary for wildlife including badgers and deer.
Chargot, regularly ranked among the top 10 places in Britain to shoot, charges groups of eight marksmen up to £18,000 a day.
Located within Exmoor National Park, it is inside the West Somerset badger cull zone, providing May, 66, with a platform to press his campaign against the government’s controversial policy of shooting badgers to reduce rates of tuberculosis in cattle.
Anne Brummer, his spokeswoman, confirmed the plans. “It is in the cull zone and that’s very relevant to us. We want to turn it into a nature reserve. We certainly won’t be shooting things there,” she said.
The acquisition of Chargot would represent a significant stepping up of May’s strategy of buying up land to turn into nature reserves.
The musician, estimated to be worth £105m in the 2014 Sunday Times Rich List, has already purchased several large tracts of farmland across the country through his charity Save Me, which says on its website that May wants to return cultivated land to “its ancient glory as original British woodland”. He adds: “My hope . . . is to evolve better ways of husbandry of the woodland, more humane, with no culling, no pesticides, no herbicides, and of course no hunting for pleasure.”
While Chargot remains on sale, it is no longer being marketed by the selling agent. The estate covers 665 acres and includes a shooting lodge, farmhouse, two cottages and three keepers’ flats. It has additional shooting rights on more than 1,600 acres of neighbouring land and employs around 100 people .
Guns On Pegs, which provides an online guide to shooting locations, says of Chargot: “Its seemingly bottomless, steep-sided valleys and stunning scenery provide the most idyllic shooting country.”
Charlie Jacoby, a film maker who lives in the area and who runs Fieldsports Channel, an internet TV programme, said: “It will be a big knock for shooting sports if the owners sell to Brian May. The uplands and valleys of Devon and Somerset provide the best pheasant shooting in the country and Chargot is the jewel in the crown. Lots of locals enjoy getting together to work their dogs or go beating at Chargot. Brian May might think he is striking a blow for animal rights but closing down the shoot will be like closing down a social club in an area that needs one.”
In response to the criticism, Brummer said: “We don’t really want to be causing problems with farmers more than we are already doing. It’s the size of the property that’s very interesting to us. If it did stop them culling [badgers] then that would be a bonus for us but we don’t want to be at war with people.” Brummer said that in the event of May purchasing the estate, he would seek to retain as many employees as possible but added: “I dare say some of them . . . won’t want to do what we want to do.”
May is one of several celebrities who have used their wealth to stop hunting. Sir Paul McCartney, a fellow animal rights campaigner, bought 5,000 acres of woodland near Wiveliscombe, Somerset, and promptly banned the sport.