Latest News from BPCA

29 October 2021

Wild Justice launches Northern Ireland general licences legal challenge

Wild Justice, the Chris Packham-led campaign group, has launched a legal challenge against the 2021/22 general licences issued by Northern Ireland's Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

wild-justice-launch-legal-challenge-northern-ireland

Wild Justice has issued a pre-action protocol letter to DAERA, in advance of seeking permission for judicial review of the legality of the licences. DAERA has two weeks to respond, at which point Wild Justice (if not satisfied with the answer) will move to file papers with the courts.

General licences in NI

All wild birds in Northern Ireland are protected under the terms of the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985. However, the NIEA can currently issue licences to permit control of birds for defined reasons.

Licences can be issued on an individual basis, or alternatively, as ‘general’ licences which permit authorised persons to control listed species for specific reasons without the need to apply for an individual licence on each occasion.

These general licences are:

  • General Licence TPG1: Kill or take certain birds, including the taking, damaging or destruction of their eggs, or the disturbance of such a bird or the young of such a bird for the purpose of preserving public health or public safety
  • General Licence TPG2 Kill or take certain birds, including the taking, damaging or destruction of their eggs, or the disturbance of such a bird or the young of such a bird for the purpose of preventing the spread of disease and preventing serious damage to livestock, foodstuffs for livestock, crops, vegetables, fruit, growing timber and fisheries
  • General Licence TPG3: Kill or take certain birds, including the taking, damaging or destruction of their eggs, or the disturbance of such a bird or the young of such a bird for the purpose of conserving wild birds.

What Wild Justice say

In a statement on their website, Wild Justice have said that they believe the general licences issued by DAERA are "the worst in place anywhere in the UK". 

WJ says they have been talking to DAERA since spring 2019 about what they have called "the scientific and legal flaws in their licences".

"We were encouraged when DAERA issued a consultation on new general licences in July, but that consultation was mysteriously removed for reasons that have never been made clear," says the statement. "It looked to us as though DAERA was planning to make sensible changes to their licences and then abruptly changed their minds. We wonder whether they were put under pressure by vested interests."

BPCA planned on taking part in that consultation, holding a roundtable meeting with members operating in Northern Ireland to get their views on DAERA’s proposals, so that a robust response could be put together.

However, as Wild Justice noted, the consultation was removed before any submission could be made.

Ian Andrew, Chief Executive at BPCA, commented:

“During subsequent discussions with DAERA, they have stated that they will be undertaking a new consultation in 2022.

“We encourage anybody operating under general licences in Northern Ireland to engage with that process and BPCA will keep members updated on the situation.”

Going forward, Wild Justice feel they have a strong case: "We have given DAERA every warning that they would face a legal challenge if they persisted with flawed licences... we will pursue this case very robustly."

GOT ANY QUESTION?

If you're operating in Northern Ireland and have questions about the general licences, get in touch and we'll try to find you the answers.

technical@bpca.org.uk

Source: Online

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