Natural England announces outcome of General Licences consultation

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On 16 September 2014, Natural England published its response to the wide-ranging consultation seeking views on potential adjustments to General Licences for protected species.

These licences are periodically reviewed and this year’s consultation has sought views on 65 separate questions: 46 relating to specific proposals that Natural England was making and 19 where Natural England was seeking information rather than proposing a licence change. 

Only a small proportion of these proposals for consultation were relevant to professional pest controllers.

The Natural England release said:

The proposals we have put forward have asked legitimate questions about what the Licences should cover, and this extensive consultation has been vital in helping develop our understanding of how these proposals might work practically.

The consultation finished on 19 May and attracted over 2,000 responses. These have now been fully evaluated, and at its meeting held on 16 July 2014, Natural England’s Board considered how each of the questions in the consultation should be taken forward.


Natural England

25 proposals have been well supported and the Board members were confident that these were the right changes to make in the interests of the effective and safe management of wildlife. For the other questions and proposals – including those at 2b and 31, which have attracted widespread public interest – the case for change has not been sufficiently made. It is important that amendments to General Licences provide confidence, certainty and clarity, and the consultation has established that in some areas there is not a broad consensus that the suggested changes will provide that. In light of the detailed feedback received, the Board has therefore determined that these questions and proposals should not be adopted.

Andrew Sells, Natural England’s chairman, commented: “I am extremely grateful to the 2,000 individuals and organisations who have contributed to this year’s consultation exercise, whether on the specific proposals or the more general questions. Their views have been invaluable, and their inputs will help us to continue to ensure that the General Licence framework remains sensible, proportionate, and fit for purpose.”

To read Natural England’s summary report in full click.

Pest notes that, despite this upbeat release, on careful examination of the summary decision document, a large number of the proposals have not been answered one way or another. The Board decision just reads: To consider the feedback in detail before any changes to the current licensing. So we are no further forward and no indication is given as to timescale for this ‘consideration’ to be completed.

Proposals 2b* and 31# (mentioned in the release above) refer to:

2b* whether robin, pied wagtail and starling should be added to the General Licence to enable people to act quickly where the birds are causing genuine health and safety problems (e.g. in the past they have nested in hospital ventilation ducts posing infection risks). The Board determined that question 2b) should not be pursued further.

Note: these birds can be captured and released under the now amended Food premises Class Licence (Proposal 6)

31# Natural England also consulted on a proposal to amend the wording in the General Licence reflecting the legal requirement that shooting under General Licence can only take place when there is “no other satisfactory solution”. The Board has determined not to include the revised wording in the General Licence.

Note: this became known as, and was widely reported as, the ‘shoo before you shoot’ proposal in the agricultural press. Not including it has been well received by the agricultural industry.

Watch-out for a more detailed review of what has changed, as far as pest controllers are concerned, in the next edition of Pest magazine, due out in October.

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