Defra has announced plans to reissue six temporary general licences for the control of wild birds following backlash from rural groups over its ‘chaotic’ wildlife system (June 18).
The move will see the current licences, which were due to expire on July 31, extended from August 1 to December 31, ahead of new licences, which are set to be introduced at the start of 2021.
The decision comes in the wake of a joint paper, ‘Wildlife Licensing in England: Chaos, Crises and Cure’, by the Moorland Association, the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation and the Countryside Alliance, which branded the transition to a system of individual licensing as ‘unworkable’, due to a catalogue of errors and delays by Natural England.
Rural groups have welcomed the announcement but warned Government must work to reform its ’unacceptable’ wildlife licensing system in the long-term, in order to allow farmers and landowners to protect livestock, crops and biodiversity.
A spokesperson for the organisations said: “The major delays in approving individual licences by Natural England has meant conservation action on protected sites, often designated for their populations of vulnerable red listed species, is down 94 per cent.
“We look forward to working with other stakeholders to see wildlife licensing being removed from Natural England, and brought back into central Government, so that we can have a licensing system that not only works for licence holders, licence makers and for wildlife, but also one that can be more efficient, effective and cheaper.”