EVERYONE who has shot or fished should encourage others to get out into the countryside to find out the real story of what went on.

That was the message from Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, MP for the Cotswolds, at a reception hosted by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation and the Angling Trust. Mr Brown, chairman of the all-party parliamentary group for shooting and conservation, said the days of a rural/urban divide were over.

The minister for agriculture and food said the Government recognised and encouraged the conservation work carried out by shooters and anglers. “What you represent is the Big Society in action. We don’t go out into the countryside just to pull the trigger or float a fly, we are out there day in, day out working for conservation.”

Independent research revealed that people involved in shooting carried out conservation work worth £250 million every year. He added that the Government did not intend to interfere with field sports where it was not necessary, but said it was important for shooting and fishing to ensure everything was being done properly and above reproach.