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General Licences

General Licences (GLs) for the control of wild birds are reviewed frequently by the governments of the four home nations. In all of these processes the Countryside Alliance is involved to campaign for the most practical licences which protect the countryside, helping farmers, land managers and conservationists manage avian pest species effectively and legitimately. Whilst it is not necessary to apply for these licences, it is essential that the terms and conditions of use for each are understood and complied with when carrying out any lethal control. 

Click on one of the following to skip to Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland.


On 1 January 2024 the three General Licences for the control of certain wild birds for varying purposes (GL40, GL41, GL42) came into effect and will be valid for two years until 31 December 2025. The three licences, which are unchanged from the previously issued ones, are for the purposes of conserving wild birds, flora and fauna of conservation concern (GL40); preserving public health or safety (GL41); and the prevention of serious damage (GL42). More information on these GLs can be found here. The details of which birds can be taken for what purposes are presented in this table: 

GLs 2024 England table

†  The wild birds which fall under this category are red- and amber-listed. Follow link for full list.

*  Only to conserve woodland birds of conservation concern, listed here.


Natural Resources Wales (NRW) conducted a review of their 2023 GLs for wild bird control and has since published its 2024 GLs, which contain some alterations from 2023. The most significant change is that magpie are no longer included on GL001, meaning that it is now an offence to kill or take magpie. The 2024 versions of GL001 and GL002 came into effect on 1 January 2024 and expire on 31 December 2024, GL004 2023 is still in effect and will be replaced by the 2024 version on 1 February 2024, which will then expire on 31 August 2024. The full details of the Welsh GLs are available here, a summary of target species and purposes is in this table: 

GLs 2024 Wales table


The General Licences 01, 02 and 03, issued by NatureScot for 2024 are unchanged from those issued for 2023. These licences are valid from 1 January 2023 to 31 December 2024. There are numerous conditions to each of the licences, full details of which can be found here. The following table summarises which species can be taken for what purposes in Scotland. 

GLs 2024 Scotland table

Northern Ireland

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has issued amended interim General Licences whilst the results of a public consultation into general licensing are considered. These licences are valid from 1 January 2024 to 29 February 2024. Full details of these interim general licences can be found here.  

GLs 2024 Northern Ireland table

It is important to note that TPG1, TPG2 and TPG3 are not valid on Sundays or in the period commencing one hour after sunset on any day and ending one hour before sunrise on the next day.

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