Thank you for contacting me about the three general licences for controlling specific wild bird species.
I am concerned with the speed with which these licences were withdrawn and I understand that Natural England are now working to replace them with appropriate licences as quickly as possible. These changes were necessitated by a legal ruling that challenged the basis upon which Natural England issued the licences. Natural England concluded that the licences were unlawful, leaving them no choice but to revoke them in order to protect people with legitimate reasons to control wildlife from committing offences by acting outside the law.
Natural England assure us they are working at pace to put in place alternative measures to allow lawful control of these bird species to continue where necessary.
On the 26th April, Natural England published the first new general licence to replace those which were revoked. Further licences will be introduced at pace over the coming days and weeks, starting with those species which are most likely to require urgent control. This will mean landowners can continue to take necessary action as they do now, whilst also taking into account the needs of wildlife.
In the meantime, a simple and quick application system has been published for individual licences to control wild birds. Further information can be found here.
I would like to stress that there is not a ban on managing bird species where there is a legitimate reason to do so. Anyone who needs to control pests can.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
EDWARD LEIGH MP