Update: General Licences for Controlling Wild Birds

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written statement – made on 12th June 2019.

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Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

On 4th May, Defra took on decision-making for the purposes covered by the general licences that had been revoked by Natural England on 25th April. An evidence-gathering exercise was then initiated in order to determine next steps which closed on 13th May.

4378 responses were received, some of which were general opinions. 3952 responses were more specific and have provided a useful set of evidence and views. The majority of responses came from individuals or smaller businesses and organisations. 36 local and national organisations also responded, including conservation, animal welfare, pest control, farming, game keeping and land management organisations.

The responses demonstrated a range of impacts that individuals and groups experienced as a result of Natural England’s revocation of licences GL04, 05 and 06. These include crow attacks on lambs and ewes during lambing, the risk of predation for eggs and fledglings of birds of conservation concern, and public health issues caused by pigeons in urban areas.

We recognise the unintended consequences of Natural England’s decision on 23rd April and completely acknowledge the need to address this situation quickly. This is why we issued an urgent call for evidence so that we could assess the situation carefully.

Next steps will be confirmed imminently following engagement with users and other interested stakeholders. A summary of the evidence and the government response will also be published shortly.

We remain determined to ensure that we have a robust and effective licensing system in place.