New licences published today (Monday 9 November) by Defra for the control of birds such as woodpigeons, crows and magpies have been given a mixed reception by the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO).
The General Licences (GL40, GL41 and GL42) will come into effect throughout England on 1 January and will last for the whole of 2021. They include significant changes to the existing licences, which Defra says are the result of 18 months work and evidence-gathering.
On the positive side, the licences will still be issued by the Secretary of State for the Environment, not Natural England, something demanded by the NGO in over a year of active lobbying. The language in the new licences is also clearer and they are probably legally more robust. Importantly, Defra has also resisted calls from extremist bird groups to stop nearly all bird control under general licensing.
But on the downside:
A big concern is the way that these licences have been introduced. A spokesman for the NGO said:
“This is the first time ever that Defra has made substantial changes to the General Licences without a proper public consultation on their intentions.
“We and the other shooting organisations were long ago promised draft licences in advance of publication. They never came. We only knew of these changes today when the licences were published.”
Although Defra regards its new licences as final, the NGO will be speaking with top Defra officials later today and working with politicians to call on the Secretary of State for improvements and corrections.
Links to the new Licences can be found here:
Conservation licence GL34/GL40: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wild-birds-licence-to-kill-or-take-for-conservation-purposes-gl34
Public health and safety licence GL35/GL41: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wild-birds-licence-to-kill-or-take-for-public-health-or-safety-gl35
Serious damage licence GL36/GL42: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wild-birds-licence-to-kill-or-take-to-prevent-serious-damage-gl36