BPCA news archive

29 May 2019

New general licences grind to a stop after Defra take over control from Natural England

New general licences for bird control, such as the all-important feral pigeon and gull control for the purpose of public health, are to be delayed.

BPCA has confirmed that new licenses will not be published according to Natural England’s original timetable and have issued updated advice accordingly.  

Natural England in front of Defra Select Committee

Defra has not yet confirmed when or even if we should be expecting general licences for pigeon control, gull control or the other 30 licenses that were promised by Natural England.

Defra has released a general statement saying:

"We understand the urgency of getting a working system of general licenses in place as quickly as possible, and it is vital that we get to a solution which is both legally robust and meets the needs of users. We are developing proposals based on the 4,000 responses we received to our call for evidence and will set out next steps shortly".

BPCA was one of those 4,000 responses, which you can read as part of our open letter to Defra

Natural England had already published three licences (carrion crows, wood pigeon and Canada geese) before Defra took over the responsibility.

We were expecting

  • preserving public health and public safety – Feral pigeon;
  • preserving public health and public safety – Lesser Black Backed Gull;
  • preserving public health and public safety – Herring gull;

to be published before the start of May, before Secretary of State Gove announced Defra would be taking over the responsibility for general licences.

A representative from Defra said last week that they were still collating the information gathered via Defra’s call for evidence on the impact of the revoking of general licences.

They were unable to even estimate when new licences would be released.

Defra called Natural England to give evidence on bird licences at the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee on 21 May. The select committee met for around an hour and a half.

In a statement made after the select committee, Marian Spain, Interim Chief Executive of Natural England, said:

"Natural England continues to work at pace to support people who need to take action. For those who need to carry out lethal control outside the terms of the three new general licences, we have rapidly issued over 1,000 individual licences since the old general licences were taken down, processing applications for conservation purposes as a priority.

"We have also clarified and simplified the notification mechanism that allows people to take urgent action in some circumstances if they cannot wait for their application to be determined.

"It is of huge importance to me that people who need to act are clear on what is required of them to do so".

BPCA Chief Exec, Ian Andrew, said:

“We’re disappointed that these vital tools for protecting public health have been delayed and the situation has been further confused.

“We’re struggling to understand why the responsibility for issuing licences was taken from Natural England, who seemed to have a plan that prioritised publishing licences for public health.

“We remain available to support Defra to create pest bird licences that are fit for purpose.”

Read updated advice

Source: Online