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Major Changes to Licensing Requirements for Bird Control

What's happened?

Natural England announced yesterday that there are to be changes to three general licenses for controlling specific wild bird species.

Natural England is therefore revoking three general licenses for controlling certain wild bird species as of Thursday 25th April 2019. The licenses it will effect cover 16 species of bird including crows and pigeons (GL 04/05/06).

So what's the reason for the change? Well it's following a legal challenge to the way the licenses have been issued, this means that users who reply on these licenses are not acting lawfully.

Natural England is said to be working at pace to put in place over the next few weeks alternative measures which will allow lawful control of these bird species to continue where necessary. In the gap between the licenses being revoked and the new licenses being issues, if you need to control one of the 16 bird species, where there is no reasonable non-lethal alternative, you will need to apply for an individual license.

This is only one of the first stages of a planned review of general and class licenses which will be completed this year.


What should you do if you use a general licence?

Overtime it is expected that many situations that are currently being covered by the 3 general licenses will be covered by new licenses.

Natural England is said to be undertaking new licensing assessments in order to support lethal control of certain birds, such as to prevent serious damage to livestock from carrion crows and to preserve public health and safety from the impacts of feral pigeons. So far Natural England is planning to start issuing these licenses on gov.uk from the week commencing the 29th of April 2019, when more details will be available regarding the changes and new licences.

If you need to take action now you will need to apply for an individual licence, using a simplified process, this will be availble on gov.uk from the 25th of April 2019.

In limited circumstances, you may be allowed to undertake urgent action in accordnce with the existing requirements of section 4 of the Wildlife and Countryside At 1981.

If you exercise lethal control of birds after Thusrday 25th April 2019 without taking the above steps, you will not be covered by a general license and could be commiting an offence.

If you are still unsure of what you should do, please visit the Natural England licensing webpage for more information and advice here.


The information in this article is accurate at the time of posting, information used in this article has been gathered from gov.uk.