Six general licences reissued on temporary basis

General licences allow farmers to kill or take certain species of wild birds for a range of purposes such as the protection of crops
General licences allow farmers to kill or take certain species of wild birds for a range of purposes such as the protection of crops

Six general licences for the control of wild birds will be reissued on a temporary basis ahead of new licences coming into force on 1 August.

The current licences GL26, GL28, GL31, GL34, GL35 and GL36 will be reissued from 1 March to 31 July.

No action is required by licence users, beyond the ongoing requirement to act in accordance with the licence conditions, the department said.

It follows a review of general licensing in June 2019. An online survey to gather key information from stakeholders closed on 5 December, receiving over 4,400 responses from organisations and licence users.



Defra said it intends to publish new licences in early July to allow user groups to become acquainted with the changes before they officially come into force in August.

Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said any new licencing system will 'balance the different interests in a fair way'.



“We need to ensure that we have carefully considered all of the relevant evidence, including the detailed responses to our online survey.

“This extensive consultation and review process will be completed in the coming months, with the new licences coming into force on 1 August,” she said.

The general licences allow farmers and land managers to kill or take certain species of wild birds for a range of purposes such as the protection of livestock and crops, conservation, or public health and safety.

Following a legal challenge by Wild Justice in April 2019, Natural England revoked three general licences and subsequently issued three licences (GL26, GL28 and GL31) to cover some of the species and purposes covered by the original licences that were revoked.

Defra subsequently issued three interim licences (GL34, 35 and 36) while the longer term licensing requirements were reviewed.

NE’s licences have remained in place, since they allow for specified activity on European protected sites which are not covered by Defra’s licences.

These interim licences expire on 29 February.



The six general licences reissued today

• Carrion crows: licence to kill or take them to prevent serious damage to livestock (GL26)

• Canada geese: licence to kill or take them for public health and safety (GL28)

• Woodpigeons: licence to kill or take them to prevent serious damage to crops (GL31)

• Licence to kill or take wild birds to conserve wild birds and to conserve flora and fauna (GL34)

• Licence to kill or take wild birds to preserve public health or public safety (GL35)

• Licence to kill or take wild birds to prevent serious damage to livestock, foodstuffs for livestock, crops, vegetables, fruit, growing timber, fisheries or inland waters (GL36)