Latest News from BPCA

06 February 2020

BIG BIRD WRAP-UP: General and individual licences for bird control in the UK

Since April 2019, we’ve had many updates on general licences for bird control in the UK.

This quick view page will give you all the headline information and latest updates on general and individual licences in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

big bird wrap up bird licence bpca

General licences are issued by each nation and are normally renewed every year.

Because of a legal challenge in England, many nations are reviewing their licences, meaning there are more changes than we might be used to.

Jump to:

All wild birds in the UK are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Licences allow people to kill or take certain species of wild birds, their nests, or their eggs, under very specific circumstances. Pest professionals use these licences to protect health and safety when birds are causing harm.

By definition you don’t need to apply for a general licence, however you do need to abide by the licence terms. You do need to apply for individual licences.

Pest management professionals will usually use a general licence for the protection of public health or public safety to carry out their work. Any bird control that isn’t covered under a general licence will need to be covered by an individual licence.

BPCA strongly advise that you read and understand whatever licence you’re using to control birds. If you’re challenged on your bird control activity, you should be able to defend your chosen actions with your licence.

We advise that you have a copy of your licence with you when you’re conducting your bird control work.

Species on general licences in the UK for protection of public health or public safety

Updated 5 February 2020.

Species

Licences 

England

Issued by Defra and Natural England

Scotland

Issued by Scottish Natural Heritage

Wales

Issued by Natural Resources Wales

Northern Ireland

Issued by The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs

GL35

GL03

GL004 and GL016.

TPG1

Expires 31 July 2020

Expires 31 March 2020

Expires 31 December 2020

Expires 30 April 2020

Canada goose

Yes

Yes

No

No

Carrion crow

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Hooded crow

No

Yes

No

No

Collared dove

No

Yes

No

No

Feral pigeon 

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Great Black-backed gull

No

Yes

No

Yes

Herring gull 

No. Class licence CL12 permits the control of lesser black-backed gulls and herring gulls for air safety purposes. You need to register with Natural England to use this class licence.

Yes

No

Yes

House sparrow

No

No

No*

Yes

Jackdaw

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Jay

No

No

No

No

Lesser black-backed gull

No. Class licence WML-CL12 permits the control of lesser black-backed gulls and herring gulls for air safety purposes. You need to register with Natural England to use this class licence.

Yes

No

Yes

Magpie

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Rook

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Monk Parakeet

Yes

No

No

No

Starling

No

No

No

Yes

Woodpigeon

No

Yes

No

Yes

 

Species or purpose not covered?


Apply for an individual licence A08*


*Note: individual licences for gull control in urban areas also require an integrated management plan. 

Species or purpose not covered?


Apply for an individual licence 

Species or purpose not covered?


Apply for an individual licence


*Note: Blackbird, Dunnock, Robin, House Sparrow, Starling, Song Thrush, Blue Tit, Great tit, Pied Wagtail can be taken and released alive from food premises for the purpose of preserving public health and public safety under GL016.

Species or purpose not covered?


Apply for an individual licence

For any species or circumstances that are not covered in these licences, you’ll need to apply for an individual licence.

Bird control in England

General licences in England are issued by Defra. BPCA has been working closely with Defra to ensure that suitable and workable general and individual licences are available for BPCA members.

Defra has issued general licences to:

Most pest professionals will use the licence GL35.

If your circumstances are not covered by these general licences, you must apply for an individual licence.

These licences expire 31 Julyy 2020. Defra has assured BPCA that new licences will be ready for August.

BPCA has been working closely with Defra to ensure that suitable and workable general and individual licences are available for BPCA members.

Reasonable endeavours for non-lethal control

New conditions were included in the three new general licences, which it was hoped would prevent future legal challenges.

It is now required that before and alongside their use “reasonable endeavours must continue to be made to achieve the purpose in question using lawful methods” not covered by the licences.

This condition is about making sure that people are doing everything practicably possible before taking or killing a wild bird.

But now it’s been made clear as a condition of the new licences, so it’s advisable to record all non-lethal action taken before using lethal methods of control.

You don’t have to try non-lethal measures if impractical, ineffective or disproportionate to do so, but you should document why you’ve chosen lethal control on your site in your site report.

Not covered

The new licences are available to use now, and any bird species not covered by these licences may in certain circumstances be controlled by applying for the individual licences.

  • WML GL36 Serious damage – does not include jay, collared dove and lesser black-backed gull
  • WML GL35 Public health or public safety – does not include jay, wood pigeon, collared dove, lesser black-backed gull and herring gull
  • WML GL36 Conservation – does not include feral pigeon and lesser black-backed gull.

Gull control

Natural England has issued a class licence to permit any wild bird control necessary to preserve air safety which covers herring gulls and lesser black-backed gulls.

Beyond this, Natural England will license gull control through individual licences.

big bird wrap up bird licence bpca 2

To control the lesser black-backed gull or herring gull to prevent disease, damage or risk to public health and safety, you should apply for licence A08.

You can find more details here.

This licence is free. Natural England will decide whether to issue a licence within 30 working days of receiving your application.

You should apply before 15 March 2020, in preparation for bird breeding season.

Natural England will continue to accept licence applications outside this period and will issue licences where there is an imperative need.

Licences for control in urban areas require the submission of an integrated management plan with the application.

Useful link and further reading:

Further advice for BPCA members is available by emailing technical@bpca.org.uk 

Bird control in Scotland

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) look after bird control licences in Scotland.

They have said that the expected changes to three general licences in Scotland will happen on 1 April 2020.

General licences

You don’t need to apply to use a general licence. But you must be sure that the licence is appropriate and that you meet the licence conditions in full.

General licences cover certain types of activity relating to birds, for example:

  • Preserving public health
  • Protecting air safety
  • Preventing the spread of disease.

Pest professionals will normally be using GL 03/2020: To kill or take certain birds for the preservation of public health, public safety and preventing the spread of disease.

Individual licences

For any species or purposes not covered in the general licences, you can apply for an individual licence.

Further advice for BPCA members is available by emailing technical@bpca.org.uk

Bird control in Wales

Natural Resources Wales look after bird control licences in Wales.

They reviewed their bird control licences last year but expect to conduct further reviews in 2020.

General licences

You don’t need to apply to use a general licence. But you must be sure that the licence is appropriate and that you meet the licence conditions in full.

There are four general licences in Wales:

Pest professionals will normally use a combination of GL004 and GL016 to protect public health.

You may not kill or take rooks or collared doves under the new Welsh general licences.

If you need to kill or take rooks or collared doves you will need to apply for an individual licence.

Individual licences

For any species or purposes not covered in the general licences, you can apply for an individual licence.

Further advice for BPCA members is available by emailing technical@bpca.org.uk

Bird control in Northern Ireland

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs issues licences for bird control in Northern Ireland.

General licences

You don’t need to apply to use a general licence. But you must be sure that the licence is appropriate and that you meet the licence conditions in full.

There are three general licences in Northern Ireland:

Pest professionals will usually use TPG1 which allows you to kill or take certain birds for the purpose of preserving public health or public safety.

Individual licences

For any species or purposes not covered in the general licences, you can apply for an individual licence.

Further advice for BPCA members is available by emailing technical@bpca.org.uk

BPCA on bird licences

BPCA is not generally opposed to tight general licences, as long as professional pest management companies, such as BPCA members, still have the tools they require to protect public health.

You can read our open letter to the secretary of state regarding bird control here.

Source: Online

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