Opinion Former Article

BASC responds to revocation of general licences

BASC is advising members that Natural England (NE) is temporarily revoking three general licences in England for controlling certain wild birds from Thursday this week.

These licences (GL 04/05/06) cover 16 species of birds including several members of the crow family, Canada goose and some gulls and pigeons. There is uncertainty as to when the temporary revocation will end.

During that time, anyone needing to control one of these 16 bird species where there is no reasonable non-lethal alternative will need to apply for an individual licence. Natural England says it has simplified the process for applying for such a licence and details will be available on its gov.uk website on Thursday.

NE says this action is the first stage of a planned review of general and class licences, which will be completed this year. The change follows a legal challenge to the way the licences have been issued, which could mean users who rely on them are not acting lawfully.

BASC chairman Peter Glenser QC said: “Natural England’s decision to withdraw the open general licences will cause chaos and uncertainty in the rural community.

“To take such a step without consultation and proper notice is utterly unacceptable from a statutory body and leaves many people at risk of breaking the law at a crucial time of the year when their need to control pests could not be more pressing.”

Glynn Evans, BASC’s head of game and gundogs, said: “This change will clearly cause disruption and disarray and we urge people who may be affected to carefully follow the advice issued by Natural England.

“BASC is disappointed with the lack of notice from Natural England and we feel it unnecessarily puts people at risk of unwittingly falling foul of the law.

“It could not have come at a worse time for gamekeepers and other land managers, who are at a peak time for predator control to protect vulnerable wildlife and growing crops.

“We will be accepting Natural England’s offer of an urgent meeting to discuss these changes and the other issues around general licences. We will update our members at the earliest opportunity.”

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