Natural-EnglandThe Countryside Alliance welcomes the opportunity to comment on the General & Class licences consultation launched this week by Natural England. However, we have grave concerns regarding some of the proposals contained within the consultation and the adverse impact this would have for farmers, gamekeepers and others undertaking essential pest control and wildlife management. 

While the consultation includes some sensible ideas, such as the inclusion of greylag geese on the General Licence for controlling agricultural pests, others such as the proposal that pigeon shooters should have to scare birds before attempting to shoot them (a proposal that was first aired in 2005 and rapidly shelved as unworkable) are very worrying.

Countryside Alliance head of campaigns Tim Bonner said: “Some of the proposals Natural England is consulting on are impractical and frankly idiotic. It is a matter of serious concern that the Government’s scientific advisors are so remote from reality of the British countryside and farming that they seriously think a proposal to force farmers to “take reasonable and appropriate steps… such as scaring” before shooting pigeons is in any way sensible.

“There are at least 10million pigeons in the UK causing millions of pounds worth of damage to crops every year. Shooting, both to scare and reduce numbers is both proper and necessary. Natural England should let farmers get on with the job.”

Natural England is seeking views on these and a number of other proposals and the Alliance urges anyone who operates under Open General Licences to respond. The Alliance will be working closely with other organisations and our response will be available online well ahead of the deadline of 19th May.

The themes of this consultation include:

  • the management of conflict species
  • the trapping and welfare of animals
  • sale, exhibition and possession of protected species
  • improving compliance with the licences
  • changes relating to obligations under the EU Birds Directive

This consultation will be of interest to anyone who uses a General or Class Licence, and organisations representing the interests of licence users and/or protected species.

The consultation documents are now available at

The consultation is seeking views on a number of proposals and topics relating the General and Class Licences issued under wildlife legislation.

Responses can be submitted from 24th February until 19th May 2014. Please use the Response Form provided, preferably submitted electronically to the mailbox: [email protected]

Any enquiries relating to the consultation can also be directed to this mailbox. (An alternative postal address is provided if required.)