Farmers count losses 'everyday' after General Licence revocation

Natural England has been blamed for 'caving in' and triggering a 'rural crisis'
Natural England has been blamed for 'caving in' and triggering a 'rural crisis'

Farmers, landowners and gamekeepers are counting their losses 'everyday' after the sudden revocation of three General Licences.

The ongoing crisis means those who are affected by the revocation are seeing crops, livestock, gamebirds and wildlife damaged 'everyday' by 'problematic' wildbirds.

Defra has launched a call for evidence on the impact of Natural England’s decision to revoke licences.

In evidence submitted to Secretary of State Michael Gove, the National Gamekeepers' Organisation (NGO) condemns Natural England’s (NE) replacements.

The body's new General Licences for crows, woodpigeons and Canada geese are 'unworkable', says the NGO, whilst NE's interim Individual Licensing Scheme has proved a 'disaster' for being 'legally chaotic'.

Numerous rural bodies have criticised the new licences due to a perceived lack of a proper consultation or advance notice.

In its submission, the NGO calls on Michael Gove to issue 'simple, pragmatic' licences so that bird control can be resumed.

Liam Bell, Chairman of the NGO said: “What makes this situation even more absurd is that documents released on Friday by Wild Justice, led by Chris Packham, reveal that the threat of a legal challenge was limited to a single ground only, which could easily have been addressed by Natural England in other ways.

“Basically NE caved in and this has precipitated a rural crisis. The ultimate losers in this catastrophe are vulnerable wild birds, livestock and farm incomes. We now look to the Secretary of State to sort it out without delay.”

Its submission includes the background that led to the General Licences being introduced in 1992 as well as supporting evidence which identifies nine crucial elements as to what the new general licences should look like.

Mr Bell added: “Every day lost to the ongoing crisis sees more gamebirds, wildlife, crops and livestock damaged by these very common problematic birds.

“The result of this is devastating for those of us who strive hard to maintain the careful balance in our countryside. It will take many years to rectify the damage that has been inflicted on our wildlife and rural environments by Natural England’s atrocious actions.”