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Natural England clarification on general licences for shooting

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Image of a pigeon

Today there has been media coverage of the revoking of three general licences for control of wild birds by Natural England following a legal challenge, in the Guardian, the Daily Mail, Telegraph and on BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today and the Today programme.

The three general licences (GL 04/05/06) cover 16 species of birds, including several members of the crow family, Canada goose, some gulls, feral and wood pigeons. Natural England announced on Tuesday (23 April) that they will be revoked at 11.59pm on Thursday 25 April.

In the meantime, once the licences have been revoked and until new licences are issued, anyone needing to control one of these 16 bird species where there is no reasonable non-lethal alternative will need to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

Natural England has confirmed the online application system for individual new licences will be available through GOV.UK from this afternoon for individuals to start applying for licences to control wild birds.

Natural England has been working at pace to put in place suitable alternative measures to allow lawful control of wild bird species to continue where necessary and to ensure that users who rely on these licences are not acting unlawfully.

Natural England’s interim chief executive Marian Spain said:

This is not a ban on control, it is a change to the licences that allow control to take place.  We have been very clear there will be new licences in place in the coming days that cover the vast majority of circumstances covered by the current licences, to ensure landowners can continue to take necessary action, whilst also taking into account the needs of wildlife.

Anybody who needs to act within the law before these are ready can rely on a simple online application system for individual licences, which will be available through before the existing licences are removed later today.

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  1. Comment by Steve posted on

    Unbelievable just spent 200 on decoys equipment etc who’s refunding that

  2. Comment by Fraser posted on

    How can BREXIT have two years notice and still not happen on time, but this crazy new law put in place in three weeks!

  3. Comment by F.Delez posted on

    Where does one obtain compensation forms for damage to our food source.And who will foot the bill.DEFRA not
    NATURAL ENGLAND should be controlling these licences,we are talking about our food supplies ,and should not be controlled by a self appointed zealot
    who suffers from absorbers syndrome.

  4. Comment by David Clark posted on

    I cant find any link to apply for this liscence, what a farce,I've just been to a farm I shoot, there are thousands of corvids,all hitting lambs and other bird species eggs.

    • Replies to David Clark>

      Comment by Daniel Hassall posted on

      Do you have any idea on how I get the new license for controlling Crow and pigeon, and if I need a license how do I get it. Thanks

  5. Comment by Donald Mackay posted on

    If this whole farce manages to 'stick' then it would be an idea to get the people who fish for a pastime on board. I don't think, for a moment, that this campaign will stop at shooting. If the idiots who called for this change are successful they will set there sights on other 'quarry'.

  6. Comment by D.Worden posted on

    So much again for our so called free and democratic country,how can a small handful of unelected individuals cause this total farce.I expect this debacle to be reversed PDQ.

  7. Comment by Robert Gould posted on

    I totally agree with your statement. Natural England should be made to show due process of how this total stupendous ban came about. This has been sneaked under the carpet, behind closed doors and a darkened room.
    I have just sent a letter to The Daily Mail on the special article by Ms Sue Reid, congratulating her for highlighting the countryside plight on this issue.
    We should all demand that Natural England, as a public funded body should show due process and reasons for this go ahead. My belief as other shooters, this is the start of the end of all Country pursuits?

  8. Comment by Roy posted on

    I would assume that if the revoking of general licence is for the welfare of wild birds then if taken to its conclusion then pheasant and grouse shoots should be banned as these birds although not wild are only bread to be shot.
    Could this ultimatly effect the shooting of rabbit and rats as these are wild creatures also?
    Just a thought..

  9. Comment by Michael White posted on

    When they say individual licences do they mean both the farmers and the people who have permission to shoot pest birds on their farms. I can find no clarification on this point.
    Tried several times to apply for an individual licence. The application form was not available on the 26th. What a mess. I blame Brexit!

  10. Comment by Miss Claudia Jane miller posted on

    This is what we need to do noone shooting at birds in the countryside please have immediatley ban on who shoot at any birds they should be fines on the spot by the Protection of Birds of ciety to let the species come back thank you

    • Replies to Miss Claudia Jane miller>

      Comment by A Mitcheson posted on

      This issue has highlighted once again - a frightening degree of ignorance amongst many of the general public re countryside matters. Comments such as ‘fines on the spot to let the birds come back’ and ‘only ground nesting birds shooting people are interested in are partridge and pheasant’ are baffling to those close to the land. These comments only serve to highlight a disconnect between many of the public and the real countryside. That is, a countryside of food supply, custodianship and a great sense of satisfaction from seeing wildlife thrive - and yes one in which wildlife diversity is enriched by shooting management.

  11. Comment by Howie posted on

    farmers must be allowed to shoot corvids and other birds attacking lambs and even killing them...just as he/she should be able to kill vermin attacking sheep....such as foxes and out of control dogs

  12. Comment by John posted on

    How much crop damage does a pigeon or crow do each day? 2 ounces?
    Ok times that by 300 seen over our local field, then times that by say 40 days, times that by say 9000 fields & see who will foot the bill when the farmer realizes that he is again out of pocket - us the consumer will pay...

    My local farmer is not the best of shots but he does frighten away many crop destroying birds who then go into their natural habitat - the forest or my garden & eat what little I can grow.

    How do I petition against this absurd change in the law???

    • Replies to John>

      Comment by T hodgson posted on

      This country has gone mad have done shooting all my life 50 yrs n now we been done over by bunny huggers

  13. Comment by JeanMcK posted on

    Civil servants do not make the laws, they only enforce them (whether they agree with them or not). As for the comment that "All shooters and countrymen alike all act within the law" - that is most certainly NOT the case. Shooting is only supposed to follow after best efforts have been made to tackle the problem by alternative methods. I know from previous employment that there was often a complete ignoring of that provision. I do agree that this withdrawal should not have been done so abruptly.

  14. Comment by A Mitcheson posted on

    Could you please let me know - why my last comment has not been included on your page?
    Is it because I termed Packham's group as 'radicalised bunny huggers'?
    I would be grateful if you could email me, thanks.

  15. Comment by A Mitcheson posted on

    This is a farcical manoeuvre by a small group of radicalised 'bunny huggers'. The sad reality, that it has derailed a previously successful licencing policy so easily, demonstrates a lack of courage and commitment from NE's and Defra's leadership. Ultimately this represents a disgraceful Whitehall failure. In the mean time, while Natural England fumble, our ground nesting birds are being decimated.

  16. Comment by RB posted on

    This whole system is unfair, it is managed by people who have different views and have been able to infiltrate and persuade the decision makers who administer the rules. They do not make the rules this is a job for democratically elected members of parliament, civil servants are acting as law makers this is wrong on every level.

    Currently there is no licence application available to the website.

    All shooters should lobby MPs and make noise.

    • Replies to RB>

      Comment by IW posted on

      I agree with you entirely, a lot of organisations such as the RSPB, RSPCA , National Trust are to name but a few are being run by people with a personal / hidden agenda let us hope that Natural England is not one of them and that common sense prevails.

    • Replies to RB>

      Comment by nicholas hedley posted on

      sign my petition on Change.Org, released this morning. we need a million signatures to get anyone's attention - Natural England: Unconditional reinstatement of general licences to shoot crows magpies, pigeons

    • Replies to RB>

      Comment by neville cox posted on

      only ground nesting birds shooting people are intrested in are partridge and phesants, most of our ground nesting bird habitat has been destroyed by intensive farming .
      would be great to see more jays magpies and buzzards flying in our skys.
      the whole shooting community is behaving like a little boy who has had there ball taken away

      • Replies to neville cox>

        Comment by Lisa Rund posted on

        As there is no longer a ‘natural balance’, opportunist species, which can survive anywhere, such as crows and magpies need to be controlled to enable species which need specialised habitats to survive. Lapwings, curlews, skylarks and fieldfares (to name a few) are on the red list (species is globally threatened). These species are more successful where land is managed by gamekeepers. The general public need to learn more about such issues and witness the damage crows, magpies, seagulls etc can do before making rash comments.

  17. Comment by Andrew Gardner posted on

    "Anybody who needs to act within the law before these are ready can rely on a simple online application system for individual licences, which will be available through before the existing licences are removed later today."

    Its no so "simple". The email address provided does not accept incoming email, had to post my application. The license will take several weeks to be issued, in the mean time crows are decimating eggs from my laying flock and all i can do is wave my arms to scare them off whilst they sit in a tree looking at me. Natural England is not fit for purpose.

  18. Comment by AO Davison posted on

    How much is this farce costing and who is footing the bill? Why does the BBC continue to allow this glory seeking nutter air time when he has been seen to be abusing public media regularly with twisted lies to get more genuine nature lovers to back his vindictive causes. If government bodies are so easily manipulated,are they fit for purpose?

  19. Comment by william Crockatt posted on

    Not so much as a link. Thanks so much . Wasters.

  20. Comment by John Hatch posted on

    Where is the application form to apply for an individual licence?

  21. Comment by L Weaver posted on

    Why does your paragraph start "Anybody who needs to act within the law" All shooters and countrymen alike all act within the law. They are over controlled already and dare not set a foot wrong for fear of losing their livelihood, sport or otherwise. And such sports are carried out so that EVERYONE can enjoy the best of the countryside. Under the freedom of information act I would like to know what consolation process has taken place prior to these licences being revoked, and who was consulted. No countryside shooting or support organisation I know has had any input to this, nor have they asked their membership to contribute. I do hope it is not based on the BBC wild bird garden count recently run and involving a certain person who was heavily involved in this count, which technically is completely inaccurate as people were encouraged to put food out to entice birds in, therefore birds from many miles around, rather then in the locale would have been counted.
    Sadly "there are none so blind as those who do not want to see" You are now part of this statement.