Re: "There are some places in the UK where you could safely use a rifle to hunt"
I am sitting in one.
2 meters above ground, nothing in line of sight to the horizon and plenty of wildlife
Rural areas are COVERED in private agricultural land infested with rabbits and pigeons both of which do crop damage and a lot of feral or wild deer which also are a pest in large numbers.
Rifle is not appropriate for pigeons, but it is for deer and rabbits, and in fact street legal air rifles with IR sights are an excellent way to control farmyard rats.
Foxes? well that's an emotive subject. Dogs are safer and more reliable for sure.