From the offices of APSI President, Bill Wiggin MP
You are likely already aware of the immediate and concerning changes to general licences for pest bird control which came into effect at midnight last night. This is a result of a legal challenge by environmental organisation Wild Justice against the Government advisor Natural England (NE) that has escalated rapidly in the last few days.
On Wednesday night, I attended an emergency meeting with the acting Chief Executive of NE. She confirmed that NE is this week being forced to temporarily revoke three general licences for bird control due to a strong legal case against them issued by Wild Justice.
As you mention, the licences being withdrawn (GL 04/05/06) collectively cover 16 bird species including jackdaws, crows, magpies and woodpigeon, and cover control methods including shooting, cage trapping and destruction of eggs and nests:
GL04: To kill or take certain species of wild birds to prevent serious damage or disease
GL05: To kill or take certain species of wild birds to preserve public health or public safety
GL06: To kill or take certain species of wild birds to conserve wild birds or flora or fauna
Natural England are working rapidly to:
- Put in place new licences starting on 29 April, which will be species and circumstance specific to ensure they are legally robust.
- Conduct a wider review of general and class licensing this year.
We now have three options:
- Wait until a new general licence is issued for your particular situation. Around 30 licences are expected to be issued in forthcoming weeks, and a schedule of when these are being released will be published by Monday at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/wildlife-licences
- Anyone needing to control wild birds before the licence they need is ready can apply for an individual licence before shooting using the online application system at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wild-birds-licence-to-control-certain-species. The applicant should then shortly receive a response issuing permission for control.
- If you shoot first and suspect you may not be covered by the general licence, we also believe that you can apply retrospectively for an individual licence as soon as possible using the same system. During this process you will receive guidance on how to take urgent action while your application is being determined.
If action is taken to prevent serious damage as outlined on the Government website at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wild-birds-licence-to-control-certain-species, Natural England must be notified as soon as reasonably practical after you have taken the action. This can be done by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Further guidance on these options is available by contacting the Natural England helpline at email@example.com or 0300 060 3900.
I am continuing to work with colleagues across other rural constituencies and at DEFRA to express our constituents’ views.
I attach a copy of the letter sent by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs explaining the situation in more detail.
Here is a further list of useful links for information and support:
- FAQs from the British Association for Shooting and Conservation: https://basc.org.uk/ne/
- Advice on general licences: https://basc.org.uk/blog/press-releases/featured-news/natural-england-revoking-three-general-licences/
- Further information on general licences: https://basc.org.uk/shooting/general-licences/
- Changes to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 will be annotated here: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1981/69/introduction
Bill Wiggin MP
Member of Parliament for North Herefordshire
8 Corn Square | Leominster | Herefordshire | HR6 8LR
01568612565 | firstname.lastname@example.org