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NPA expresses concern over changes to bird control licences

24th Apr 2019 / By Alistair Driver

The NPA has expressed concern at the revoking of three general licences for controlling certain wild birds.

Natural England is revoking the licences (GL 04/05/06), which cover 16 species of birds including several members of the crow family, Canada goose, some gulls and pigeons, on Thursday, (April 25).

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. The agency said it was working ‘at pace’ to put alternative measures in place over the next few weeks to allow lawful control of these bird species to continue where necessary.

In the meantime, once the licences have been revoked and until new licences are issued, anyone needing to control one of these 16 bird species where there is no reasonable non-lethal alternative will need to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.

The action is the first stage of a planned review of general and class licences, which will be completed this year.

Natural England’s interim chief executive Marian Spain said: “We recognise this change will cause disruption for some people, but we are working hard to ensure it is kept to a minimum. We will bring forward interim measures as quickly as possible as the first stage of our planned review of the licences.”

For more information, including details of applying for individual licences, click here

NPA response

NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said: “The sudden removal of these licences is a concern as it could make it harder for pig producers to control certain bird species, which can be a particular problem on outdoor units. We urge members to ensure they are aware of the new licensing requirements before carrying out any bird control activities.”

NFU Deputy President Guy Smith said the NFU understands Natural England will be reissuing the licenses from April 29.

“For the NFU it is a matter of priority that they do that,” he said. “The NFU has significant concerns about the abrupt withdrawal of these general licenses. They are absolutely necessary at this time of year when crops are particularly vulnerable to pests. For example, a flock of pigeons could decimate a farmer’s field of crops.”