Pellets fall onto children playing on the lawn – are there legal distances Guns should observe?

Question: When shooting pheasants in the wood on the opposite side of the stream, our neighbour sometimes overshoots into our garden and it is disconcerting when pellets fall onto children playing on the lawn. What are the minimum legal distances from habitation that he should observe? I should add that I am not against shooting – we are occasional and very careful shooters and have an FAC for our .22 which we use for rabbits and squirrels.

Iain Morrison replies: Generally speaking, your neighbour may pursue legal activities in his private wood, including shooting pheasants. But unless you have given consent or where he holds the shooting rights over your property, they have no right to allow shot to fall on your property.

Technically, the relevant course of action would be in the tort of nuisance and you will be entitled to sue for damages including the cost of remediating the land, i.e. removing the lead shot, and an injunction to prevent any recurrence.

In relation to dead or wounded game, again, they have no right to collect fallen birds or send dogs onto your land to collect them unless they have your consent – or hold the shooting rights over your property.

It is quite possible that reckless shooting in close proximity to dwellings and people may jeopardise their shotgun or firearm licence, which it may be worth reminding them.

The editor adds: This is a classic example of how important it is for small shoots to keep on good terms with their neighbours. It may be that a simple conversation is all that is needed to remedy this situation. The legal position is very clear, but perhaps if the shoot owners took the time to speak with the man in question, any grievance could be avoided.