The latest turn of events in the kerfuffle caused by the new general licences issued by National Resources Wales (NRW), means that those working in wild bird conservation will be unable to continue their work controlling some of the most rampant avian predators of curlews, other waders, wild gamebirds and songbirds.
The NGO policy team has been in close contact with NRW since the new licences were introduced to ensure that gamekeepers and other rural workers are correctly interpreting the licences issued by NRW.
When NRW was recently asked by the NGO for clarification on one of the licences used to control predators, GL004, it received a response stating that “the licence is only valid when eggs and chicks are present, and the licence cannot be used all year round.”
Liam Bell, Chairman of the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, said: “It is absolute madness not to allow GL004 to be used in advance. Catching canny corvids takes many months and if it cannot begin until the eggs and chicks of rare and declining birds have appeared, the consequences for many species will be catastrophic.
“It beggars belief that NRW, the body charged with looking after the natural heritage of Wales, is now presiding over a licence that will damage many of the country's most iconic birds.
“There is widespread scientific evidence, which NRW has seen during its 2019 review, that the breeding success of birds such as curlew improves markedly where crows and other corvids are controlled. Is it stating the obvious to say that this is because the predators are no longer there to take the eggs and chicks when they arrive?”
The NGO is now taking legal advice on whether NRW’s new approach to licensing is in fact lawful. It was introduced without any public consultation or democratic mandate and is far more restrictive than the General Licensing regime originally introduced by Parliament. If the lawyers advise it a judicial review of NRW, backed by the NGO, is now likely.