New General Licences in Wales set for October the 7th will restrict your conservation work and threaten wild bird populations.
Despite clear warnings and considerable evidence provided by no less than seven leading rural organisations, over the last seven months, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) have pressed ahead with producing new General Licences for Wales that could have potentially irreversible consequences for the wild bird population. The new licences will restrict many of you from carrying out essential conservation work in the countryside.
Although some of our concerns have been met with a positive outcome for conservation, GL004 is of particular concern as it only allows for the protection of amber or red listed species.
Following the legal challenge and subsequent farcical production of General Licences in England, NRW sought legal advice on the way they were granting General Licences in Wales, which they (NRW) have since deemed to be unlawful. Despite their being no legal challenge to NRW, their own ratification process of issuing “lawful” General Licences has now come to a conclusion and the new licences will come into force on the 7th of October, with some species being completely omitted from the list of those you can control. You may also notice that the titles of the licences have also been changed. This is an unnecessary change and does not tie in with the wording as set out in the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981.
The licences are briefly set out here for you:
GL001: LICENCE TO KILL OR TAKE CERTAIN WILD BIRDS TO PREVENT SERIOUS DAMAGE TO LIVESTOCK, FOODSTUFFS FOR LIVESTOCK, CROPS, VEGETABLES OR FRUIT OR TO PREVENT THE SPREAD OF DISEASE TO LIVESTOCK, FOODSTUFFS FOR LIVESTOCK, CROPS, VEGETABLES OR FRUIT.
GL001 no longer permits the lawful control of rook, jay, or collared dove.
GL002: LICENCE TO KILL OR TAKE CERTAIN WILD BIRDS FOR THE PURPOSE OF PRESERVING PUBLIC HEALTH AND PREVENTING THE SPREAD OF DISEASE
Only one species remains and that is the feral pigeon. You can no longer lawfully control carrion crow, magpie, jackdaw, rook, jay, collared dove, and wood pigeon. These species are omitted from the list whilst operating under GL002.
GL004: LICENCE TO KILL OR TAKE CERTAIN WILD BIRDS FOR THE PURPOSE OF CONSERVING WILD BIRDS
The following can be lawfully controlled but only for the protection of chicks and eggs, not adult birds that are red and amber listed, which are noted in the Annexe of the General Licence; carrion crow, jay, magpie, jackdaw. This will not now include rook, feral pigeon or Canada goose.
GL16: LICENCE TO TAKE CERTAIN WILD BIRDS FROM FOOD PREMISES FOR THE PURPOSE OF PRESERVING PUBLIC HEALTH AND PUBLIC SAFETY
This licence permits authorised persons (as set out in the definitions) to take and release alive and unharmed any of the wild birds listed below:
Blackbird, dunnock, robin, sparrow, starling, thrush, tit - blue, tit – great, wagtail.
Further restrictions have been imposed on where you can operate under the General Licences, excluding SSSI areas and their boundaries up to 300 metres (except the Dovey estuary where it extends to a zone of 500 metres). This covers a large area across Wales, and is home to many of the most vulnerable species that previously benefitted from protection under the old General Licences.
Bespoke licences can still be applied for via NRW’s online portal. You will be required to provide evidence of the need to control the species and details of the alternative methods to lethal control already undertaken.
Whilst the Countryside Alliance very much welcomes further engagement with NRW and the General Licence system, we are undoubtedly disappointed with General Licence 004 and are hugely concerned about the impact this could have on positive countryside management.
NRW’s statement includes the old version of the General licences which still apply until the new ones go live on the 7th of October.