Wild Justice prepares fresh legal case against general licences

One general licence allow farmers and land managers to shoot certain bird species to prevent serious damage to livestock
One general licence allow farmers and land managers to shoot certain bird species to prevent serious damage to livestock

Wildlife campaign group Wild Justice is preparing a fresh legal challenge against Natural Resources Wales' (NRW) four general licences.

The environmental group, founded Chris Packham, Dr Ruth Tingay and Dr Mark Avery, is seeking a judicial review of general licences GL001, GL002, GL004 and GL016.

These licences cover 16 wild bird species, and were replaced with previous GE's last October. They are valid until 31 December 2020.

One licence allows farmers and land managers to shoot certain bird species in order to protect damage against crops and livestock.



Another ensures a licence to kill wild birds for the purpose of preserving public health and preventing the spread of disease to humans.

But Wild Justice has criticised them as 'fatally and irredeemably flawed' as they 'do not identify the circumstances in which they may be relied upon by a user to take action'.



Now, the group said that unless NRW agrees with their legal interpretation, it intends to apply for permission for judicial review of their issuing of general licences.

“If we do this then we will need to raise funds for such a legal case,” the group said.

“As always, Wild Justice’s main interest is in the general licence which applies to lethal control of birds for so-called conservation purposes.

“But since the legal flaws we have identified with that general licence apply to all the general licences issued by NRW then there is little point in trying to differentiate between them. The farming industry should reflect on that.”

NRW issue general licences to allow certain actions to be carried out without the need to apply for a specific licence.

Each general licence is issued for a particular purpose and some are limited to certain bird species only.

Last year, Wild Justice successfully launched a legal challenge against Natural England, forcing the body to revoke general licences.



NRW's four general licences under scrutiny

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. Species covered: Carrion Crow, Magpie, Jackdaw, Feral Pigeon, Woodpigeon, Canadian Goose.

GL002 – Licence to kill or take certain wild birds for the purpose of preserving public health and preventing the spread of disease to humans. Species covered: Feral Pigeon

GL004 – Licence to kill or take certain wild birds for the purpose of conserving wild birds. Species covered: Carrion Crow, Magpie, Jackdaw, Jay

GL016 - Licence to take and release alive certain wild birds from food premises for the purpose of preserving public health and public safety. Species covered: Blackbird, Dunnock, Robin, House Sparrow, Starling, Song Thrush, Blue Tit, Great tit, Pied Wagtail