Three New General Licences for Killing or Taking of Wild Birds in England

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and Natural England have issued three new general licences which permits the killing or taking of certain wild birds in England under certain circumstances.

This follows the withdrawal of the original general licences by Natural England, after a legal challenge by Wild Justice.

The decision to issue the new licences follows analysis of information provided to Defra’s open consultation on the issue, which received 4000 responses highlighting challenges individuals and groups face without the them.

The new licences will allow users to control certain species of wild birds in order to:

  • conserve wild birds and flora or fauna (WML GL34)
  • preserve public health or public safety (WML GL35)
  • prevent serious damage to livestock, foodstuffs for livestock, crops, vegetables, fruit, growing timber, fisheries or inland waters (WML GL36)

The licences are similar to the previous licences, but do not apply to European protected sites. They will be valid until 29 February 2020.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said:

I recognise the scale of interest and concern that was generated by Natural England’s decision to revoke three general licences and I am grateful to those thousands of individuals and groups who shared their experiences in responding to the call for evidence.

The three new general licences announced today seek to minimise some of the negative impacts that the withdrawal of the previous licences had. But this is a temporary way forward and does not cover European protected sites, where the law is more complicated and we continue to engage with stakeholders.

Defra intend to launch a public consultation by the end of the summer, as part of a formal review of general and class licences.