THE hunting community has welcomed the news that the sport will continue to be an important topic in Europe with the re-establishment of the Hunting Intergroup in the European Parliament.

As is normal, the Intergroup was dissolved before the 2014 European Elections, but with hard work from the European Federation of Associations for Hunting and Conservation (FACE), including the Countryside Alliance, it has now been reformed.

The re-establishment of the Intergroup was supported by more than 100 MEPs from all political groups in the European Parliament, with 15 from the UK, and is one of the Intergroups approved from 70 proposed.

The final approval was taken last week by the European Parliament’s Conference of Presidents of the political groups. It plays a vital role in ensuring that hunting is represented at the European decision making and the strong support from MEPs is a recognition of the important role that hunting plays within the European countryside.

In November, the sport celebrated surviving 10 years after the Hunting Act was forced through Parliament.

Despite the changes, the hunting fraternity remained upbeat and vowed to fight for repeal of the Act while working within the law in the meantime. A quarter of a million people are expected to turn out on Boxing Day to support hunts on their biggest day of the calendar for the traditional Boxing Day meet.

More than 300 meets will take place across the country on Friday, more than 10 years after the Hunting Act was passed by parliament.

Boxing Day meets have traditionally drawn huge crowds, both mounted and on foot, to enjoy the atmosphere and pubic appetite has not dwindled since the ban.

Support for hunting is as strong as ever because people are determined not to bow to this prejudice.

While hope of the current coalition changing the law has faded, support groups are now focusing their attention on the future government.

The next government, of whatever political colour, needs to accept that the Hunting Act is not working and repeal or replace the Act seems to be the opinion of the hunting fraternity.