Partial revocation of general licence


This is bad news, they have done this before, it was restored quickly but with some species removed!
The cost both administratively and actual on the ground will be massive and probably never truly looked into.

Anecdotally one of the places I help control pests (pigeons and rabbits mainly) already cause thousands of pounds of damage despite the measures in place, left unchecked I dread to think of the cost.


Is the 1954 pest act still on the books?
‘Dr’ Mark Avery, Packham and co manage to get their way then. SNH will be the next target for the to try the same crap.

I’d hazard a guess that if these so called bird lovers and anti shooting lot get their way there will be **** all for them to look at in 20 years but obviously it won’t be their fault will it.........

I hope that BASC, NGO, NFU etc get together and put a legal team together to overturn this and ruin these cockwombles...... I think though that there is slim chance going on previous performances.
BASC should encourage all its membership to submit individual applications to do a bit of pest control, and use its Legal team to prepare a Standardized claim for farmers to submit for loss of earnings while awaiting the permits for pest control.

Guess I'm going fishing next weekend.
As I understand from reading other forums it's about unpicking the wording- exactly what the no win no fee bods do.
NE are only supposed to issue GLs when all listed pre cursors have been met. ie -for pigeon, Have all non lethal options been tried and proven to have failed?.
If yes, then the conditions to kill under the GL are met.
If not then there is no permission given for a GL.
It seems that NE have ignored this basic requirement, allowed everyone to claim they shoot under the rules of the GL and now have to "make good" their failure.
Means I have to cancel my pigeon shooting this week (and so, I imagine, the BASC Wood Pigeon day on 27th is also cancelled) so I am far from happy but letters have gone to my MP, NEs' complaints department and I have applied to be issued GLs asap


I hope that BASC, NGO, NFU etc get together and put a legal team together to overturn this and ruin these cockwombles...... I think though that there is slim chance going on previous performances.
NGO responds to decision to revoke general licences

An NGO spokesman said the shock decision was already causing chaos and confusion and that it could also devastate wildlife and livelihoods.

"The science on this is completely clear. Without spring corvid control, wild gamebird production and the breeding of red-listed waders like the curlew and lapwing will be insufficient to maintain their English populations.

"Stopping the use of all corvid traps and the shooting of crows and magpies at this time of year will be a disaster for wildlife, to say nothing of the livelihoods of those dependent on well-run grouse moors and farms where wild gamebirds such as the declining grey partridge are being managed."

The NGO has already spoken with NE's Director responsible, telling her just how much concern and chaos the decision will cause. The NGO is demanding comprehensive alternative licensing arrangements and proper communication from NE so that those who need to control pest birds know what is going on.

In the meantime, the NGO can only advise gamekeepers needing to continue trapping and shooting after Thursday to check out the England website, for any arrangements for individual licences that NE announces this Thursday.
Has anyone seen any clear guidance on what will be happening ref. Pest control from tomorrow?

Having had a drive round this morning a couple of problem areas have emerged over the last week and we're all stuck in limbo as when we can act and what methods we can use.

I'll be writing to my MP this evening as well as complaining directly to NE.


Wild birds: licence to take or kill to prevent damage or disease (GL04)

Apparently it allows you to do this:
If you’re a land owner, occupier or other authorised person you can use this general licence to carry out a range of otherwise prohibited activities against certain wild birds. You do not need to apply for this general licence but you must meet its conditions and follow its instructions.

You are an authorised person if you’re:

  • the land owner, occupier or anyone authorised by the owner or occupier
  • authorised in writing by the local authority
  • authorised in writing by any England, Scotland or Wales conservation body, a district board for fisheries or local fisheries committee
  • authorised in writing by the Environment Agency, a water undertaker or a sewerage undertaker
When you can use this licence

You can only use this licence to prevent serious damage to:

  • livestock
  • foodstuffs for livestock
  • crops, vegetables and fruit
  • growing timber
  • fisheries or inland waters

You can also use it to stop the spread of disease.

You cannot use this licence to kill birds because they are damaging your property, such as your car or house, or if they’re a nuisance.
Birds you can catch alive or kill with this licence

With this licence you can catch alive or kill, as well as take, damage or destroy the nests, or take or destroy the eggs:

  • crows
  • collared doves
  • jackdaws
  • jays
  • lesser black-backed gulls
  • magpies
  • pigeons (feral and woodpigeon)
  • rooks
  • Canada geese
  • Egyptian geese
  • monk parakeets
  • ring-necked parakeets

You must still follow animal welfare laws and kill birds in a quick and humane manner.

You can eat birds killed under this licence, but you cannot sell any for human consumption other than woodpigeons.
How you can catch alive or kill wild birds

In addition to other legal methods, this licence lets you use a:

  • semi-automatic weapon
  • cage trap that doesn’t meet the size requirements of the Wildlife and Countryside Act
  • hand-held or hand-propelled net to take birds not in flight

For feral pigeons only, you can also use:

  • a device to illuminate a target
  • sighting devices for night shooting
  • mirrors, lighting or other dazzling devices

If you use a cage trap, you can only use the following decoy birds:

  • crows
  • jackdaws
  • magpies
  • monk parakeets
  • ring-necked parakeets
  • rooks
Tomorrow they publish the license application forms.
Wait and see I suppose!
If no licenses are issued then I imagine a few of the birds will be deemed non native unless we end up like the Dutch!
NE are only supposed to issue GLs when all listed pre cursors have been met. ie -for pigeon, Have all non lethal options been tried and proven to have failed?.
If yes, then the conditions to kill under the GL are met.
If not then there is no permission given for a GL.
Yeah that's how I understand it aswell.

It's the wording that NE use saying they "issue" the licence if non lethal measures dont work which is causing the problem.
Ref: GL06 Revocation
I've been instructed to cease corvid control on Forestry England land as of this morning and await further instructions from Natural England.
Bird breeding season is not the best time to fiddle with the Wildlife and Countryside Act, but I doubt that our esteemed lawmakers have given it any thought.


The NGO has been urgently pressing Natural England (NE) for further information about its decision, announced yesterday afternoon, to revoke three key General Licences for the control of 16 common bird species throughout England. The situation remains chaotic but more information is trickling out.

First, NE has now confirmed what time tomorrow (Thursday 25 April) the General Licences will be revoked. They will cease to exist on Thursday at 23.59 (one minute before midnight). From that time on it will be illegal to trap, shoot or otherwise kill or take the General Licence species such as crows, magpies, woodpigeons and Canada geese unless you hold an Individual Licence to do so.

We urge members most strongly to abide by the law and to spread word of the revocations to any gamekeepers who may not have heard. There have already been calls from anti shooting organisations to look out for examples of lawbreaking after the General Licences have been revoked.

Second, NE have finally replied to the NGO’s request for what can or must be done with decoy crows and magpies used in corvid traps. This is something about which many members have asked us. NE says (in its own words):

  • 1) So long as the birds have been legally taken or otherwise obtained they may be lawfully possessed (under section 1(3)(a) of the 1981 Act). Assuming these birds were caught under general licence, as long as the terms and conditions of the licence were satisfied then these birds would be lawfully obtained.
  • 2) It is not lawful to kill these birds except under licence. The options after Thursday are therefore: to keep the bird(s); to release it; to wait until an appropriate new general licence is issued, or either apply for a licence to kill it.
  • 3) While under the control of a person any decoy bird is subject to the provisions of the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

The NGO’s advice for those planning on keeping decoy birds alive, pending the issuing of replacement licences, is to retain them in a good sized aviaries, with food, water, shelter and perches, inspecting them at least daily as the Animal Welfare Act 2006 requires. It will not be lawful to keep decoy birds in Larsen traps after the General Licences are revoked as the typical compartment size is too small to comply with animal welfare law and the clause in the General Licences which allows decoy birds to be so held whilst the trap is in use will, of course, have been revoked.

Regarding NE’s promise of a light tough Individual Licensing system available via its website tomorrow (Thursday), no further information has been forthcoming. It seems likely, however, that each application will have to be assessed individually by NE if the system is to be valid and legally sound, so we are not expecting gamekeepers and others needing Individual Licences to be able to get them immediately. Indeed one caller to NE’s helpline was told that there would be just three members of NE staff handling the applications, so we advise that delays can be expected.

The NGO continues to argue the case that NE’s sudden decision is causing chaos and confusion, with a danger that the law could be inadvertently be broken by those not informed of the changes. We are also stressing that it will affect gamekeepers’ livelihoods and their ability to control predatory birds at this most crucial time of year for wild gamebirds and declining waders. We have provided briefing on all these aspects to MPs and others, who have taken the argument right up to the Secretary of State, Michael Gove MP, on whose behalf the General Licences are issued.

Some people have unfortunately been directing their understandable anger about the situation towards the shooting organisations rather than NE. Let’s be clear on this. The NGO was told by NE in mid March that despite the legal challenge being made against them, the General Licences would remain in place. The next communication on the subject we had from NE was received by the NGO at 1446 yesterday afternoon, announcing the revocation. There had been no previous indication of revocation whatsoever. We issued our response via our website at 1704 yesterday. None of the other countryside organisations had been given any more notice of this than the NGO.

We are doing all we can to force NE to reverse its decision or at least to put practical measures in place as soon as possible. In an interesting development in the last few hours, the Scottish Government has announced that it is fully aware of the situation but it is not revoking its General Licences, which have exactly the same legal basis as those which NE now regards as being unlawful.

All the shooting organisations are working together on this most pressing issue and we will continue to update the NGO website just as soon as there are any further developments.

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