BASC is highlighting reassurances given by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) that it is not seeking to make immediate changes to its system for operating general licences.
While Natural England (NE) is revoking three general licences from tomorrow without wider consultation with rural organisations, SNH has reassured the rural community that any review of its systems would take into account the views of those affected.
BASC’s Scotland director Dr Colin Shedden said: “BASC is pleased to note that the general licences continue to operate in Scotland, at this particularly important time of year for lambs and nesting birds.
“We are also pleased that SNH have stated that if there is to be any change it will only occur after consultation and after all those relying on such licences have been made aware of any changes. BASC Scotland will remain in close contact with SNH over all aspects of species licensing.”
BASC vice chairman Eoghan Cameron said: “Natural England has caused chaos and consternation with its decision to withdraw general licences in England without the decency of consultation or proper notice. SNH is to be applauded for recognising that the rural community in Scotland is fearful of the situation and has moved to reassure people as best it can that it will act in a proper and respectful manner on this issue.”
The full statement from SNH said: “In light of the recent decision by Natural England (NE) to revoke three of their general licences for controlling certain wild birds, we would like to firstly reassure those who are currently operating under our similar licences that these remain in place in Scotland, allowing those who comply with the conditions to continue to use them.
“Our general licences cover relatively common situations, such as preventing agricultural damage and protecting public health and safety where there’s unlikely to be any conservation impact. They avoid the need for people to apply for individual licences for these specific circumstances.
“It’s our role to balance a number of public interests, while making sure Scottish wildlife and nature is protected, and can thrive for future generations. It’s a responsibility we take very seriously. We continue in our commitment to getting the balance right.
“We are aware that this decision by Natural England is linked to a legal challenge; the legal system is slightly different here in Scotland, but we are following this case carefully to see if there are any implications for us.
“Taking into account the outcome of the process in England and after consultation with our legal advisors, we will then consider if there may be any changes required to our licences.
“As with any review of our licences we would seek to ensure an appropriate period of consultation to gather views on any planned changes, allow sufficient time for any adjustments to take place and for users to be made aware.”
For more information, please contact BASC's press office on 01244 573007 or email firstname.lastname@example.org