General licence update - links to the 3 new General Licences

Pic credit: IANPRESTON http://bit.ly/1ryPA8o

Pic credit: IANPRESTON http://bit.ly/1ryPA8o - Credit: Archant

Three new general licences have been issued by Defra. Here you will find links to the general licences, advice on using them, and comments by our rural organisations

Defra has released three new general licences which have, for the most part, been approved by our rural organisations. The move follows Defra's recent call for evidence of the range of impacts experienced by groups and individuals as a result of the revocation of the general licences in April. There are, however, still concerns over the approach to European designated sites (or 'protected sites'), home to much of our most important wildlife, which are not covered by the new licences.

There were over 4,000 responses to the call for evidence, with crow attacks on lambs and ewes, predation of eggs and fledglings of birds of conservation concern, and public health issues caused by pigeons in urban areas being among the range of issues reported. Defra also sought the views of user groups on the usability of different potential licensing options.

The resulting three new general licences seek to protect wild birds whilst recognising the legitimate needs of people and other wildlife.

The new licences will allow users to control certain species of wild birds in order to: conserve wild birds and flora or fauna (GL34); preserve public health or public safety (GL35); and prevent serious damage to livestock, foodstuffs for livestock, crops, vegetables, fruit, growing timber, fisheries or inland waters (GL36).

The new licences will be valid until 29 February 2020. In the meantime, Defra will lead a review of the longer-term general licensing arrangements with the intention of launching an initial public consultation by the end of the summer, with further details to follow.

Responses from rural organisations

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Liam Bell, NGO chairman, said: "Two cheers to Defra for sorting out most of the mess left after NE's licence revocations in April. We reserve our third cheer until they have also addressed the remaining issues in protected sites. The team-working between the shooting organisations has been great on this and a big reason for the turnarounds gained so far. We look forward to playing our part in finishing the job."

Countryside Alliance chief executive Tim Bonner said: "Since Defra has taken back control of the licences we have seen significant progress and for most people managing most species the situation is now back as it was. The discussion does not, however, stop here, and we will seek to resolve the outstanding issues as part of the planned consultation later this year."

BASC chief executive Ian Bell said: "The organisations have worked extensively in the background with Defra and we are content that the new, additional general licences issued today will be fit for purpose in many areas but significant concerns remain around protected sites. We appreciate that it's not a perfect situation and there may still be some confusion; the organisations will continue to be on hand to steer our members through. The organisations have told Defra that we expect any gaps to be picked up by the consultation in the summer."

USEFUL LINKS:

* For general guidance relating to the use of the new licences, visit: http://bit.ly/2XceKRT

* General licence GL34 (to kill or take for conservation purposes): http://bit.ly/2Rf9GHf

* General licence GL35 (to kill or take for public health or safety): http://bit.ly/2MN4NX8

* General licence GL36 (to kill or take to prevent serious damage): http://bit.ly/2IepN4M

* To apply for an individual licence for circumstances not covered by the general licences (for example, the control of herring or lesser black-backed gulls): http://bit.ly/2XKnQCx