One of the replacement General Licences, issued by Natural England in April to protect livestock, is facing a potential legal challenge (General Licence WML - GL26). The campaign group that prompted the withdrawal of the previous general licences feel that pheasants should not be included alongside other livestock, such as lambs, that can be protected from carrion crows.
In law pheasants remain livestock while they are being reared and during the release period when they are being fed and watered in and around release pens. During these periods they can be at serious risk of damage from crows.
The group Wild Justice wish to challenge this licence by Judicial Review (JR) and so have sent a ‘pre-action’ letter to Natural England which gives both sides the opportunity to address the matter without it actually reaching the courts. Since Defra announced in May that it was taking control of the new licences it is entirely possible they have already satisfied themselves on this point of law.
Defra announced Friday 7th June, “We intend to announce shortly how we will proceed on general licensing, following an evidence-gathering exercise undertaken by Defra over the course of the last month. We received more than 4,000 responses to the call for evidence, and we have since been carefully considering all the evidence received in order to determine next steps, alongside additional evidence. As part of our evidence gathering we have sought the views of user groups on the usability of different potential licensing options. We appreciate the urgency of getting a working licensing system in place as quickly as possible. A final decision has not yet been taken on the way forward, but we will be setting out next steps shortly.”