24 April 2019

General licences for bird control will be revoked - BPCA respond

BPCA has been alerted that as of this Thursday (25 April 2019), Natural England is revoking three general licences for controlling certain wild bird species in England.

The revoked licences (GL 04/05/06) cover 16 species of birds “including several members of the crow family, Canada goose, some gulls and pigeons”.

General licences for bird control will be revoked tomorrow - BPCA respond

Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland are not affected at this time. 

As of now, there is no definitive time frame for when new licenses might be released, however, information suggests that some new licences could be available by 29 April.

Between now and the publication of new licences, pest management professionals in England who need to use lethal control to manage the affected species will need to apply for an individual licence.

The three general licences being revoked are:

Natural England has said it is “working at pace to put in place over the next few weeks alternative measures to allow lawful control of these bird species to continue where necessary”.

Our position statement

Ian Andrew, BPCA Chief Executive said:

“We are disappointed that Natural England has had to revoke the general licence with three days notice given to the pest management community.

“We join the many voices agreeing that the change will compromise public health and bring disruption to businesses.

“We’re concerned that well trained and experienced pest management professionals will unwittingly be breaking the law while trying to protect their clients because of the lack of warning or due process.

“Given the time of year, the agricultural sector will have substantial issues protecting their newly born livestock.

“Storage facilities with wild bird infestations could end up with no clear way of protecting stored goods, including food stores.

“Construction and building projects will need to be delayed where, for example, pigeons need removing from areas to be renovated or demolished”

“Food premises could be closed due to the risk of product contamination if, for example, pigeons gain entry to buildings”

“We believe the professional judgement of a proficient, trained and experienced pest management company, like a BPCA member, should be enough to satisfy the condition that all other bird management options have been exhausted before lethal action is taken.

“In the future, we hope the training, continuing professional development (CPD) and experience of a professional will allow them to be able to continue to use lethal control, as a last measure, as they have done previously under the general licences.

“BPCA has been asked by Natural England to join an urgent meeting next week to discuss the changes and the future of general licenses.

“We will work with Natural England to make sure that BPCA members can continue to protect human health and safety.

“We urge all pest management professionals to make sure they have the correct licenses they need to lethally control wild birds as to avoid breaking the law.”

BPCA will continue to update members as more information becomes available.

What to do if you use a general licence

Natural England has said, it is expected that, over time, many situations currently covered by the three general licences will be covered by new licences.

Natural England is undertaking new licensing assessments to support lethal control of certain birds in defined situations, such as to prevent serious damage to livestock from carrion crow and to preserve public health and safety from the impacts of feral pigeons.

It intends to start issuing these licences on from the week commencing 29 April when more details will be available.

If people need to take action in the meantime they will need to apply for an individual licence, using a simplified process which will be available on from 25 April.

In limited circumstances, people may be allowed to undertake urgent action in accordance with the existing requirements of section 4 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Anyone exercising lethal control of birds after Thursday 25 April 2019 without taking the above steps will not be covered by a general licence and could be committing an offence.

If you are unsure what you should do, visit the Natural England licensing webpage for more information and advice.

Source: Online

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