Earlier this week we met with Natural England and handed them questions that GWCT members and supporters had asked concerning General Licences via our recent blog.
Below are Natural England's answers to some of the more commonly asked questions:
Members are expressing confusion about whether it is for the individual or the premises – is it the land owner or the tenant who needs said licence?
The individual licences allow people to work across all of England, and on any land, as long as they have that land owner’s permission.
What do you need to have landowner permission?
This permission would need to be in writing, which is laid out in the licensing conditions: “The licence may authorise other people to act on their behalf, but that must be in their writing.”
General consensus is that there is confusion over the different licences for the different species – it would make more sense to grant the licence for the activity and not the species.
Putting in place a licence for activity rather than species would have meant carrying out assessments for all the species this licence could theoretically cover, taking up a considerable amount of time and thus delaying the issuing of the licence. By proceeding one species at a time we can complete the licence quicker and prioritise the species that have highest impact at this time of year.
Language around section 4 - can it be clearer?
We are working on this and will update.
Pigeon license complete by end of the week. What about other birds?
We are currently publishing licences in a sequence based on priority. The indicative timetable published on gov.uk outlines the priority 1, 2 and 3 areas. This week we are focusing on Priority 1, which will have the greatest demand.
We are prioritising magpies and carrion crow for the conservation of wild birds this week, so we can assess those. We are also prioritising wood pigeon for crop damage, and then feral pigeon and Canada goose for public health.
Where people have applied for an individual licence, if before their licence is confirmed a relevant general licence is published, they will be notified not to continue with their individual licence application. This reassures people that they will be able to operate under the most appropriate and up to date licence.
How long will it take you to process the 350?
We are processing individual licences as a priority now, focusing on conservation licences. We determined 60 licences yesterday and continue to issue today. To allow us to process applications as quickly as possible, it’s important all essential fields – including name, location and species involved - are completed before submitting the form.
Emergency actions under section 4: are they going to be clearly laid out in writing on the website?
We have improved the wording on the bounce-back emails, so if you apply for the individual licences your auto reply clarifies exactly what you need to do. There is now a button on the website, and if you click it all you need to give is your name and address to confirm.
What about the general licence review in regards to pigeons? That is just dealing with the current legal challenge by Wild Justice? And not other elements you think should be included?
We need to apply an assessment in order to issue a licence for pigeons. We need to be confident that these birds cause damage and we need to be confident that the control doesn’t affect the conservation status of the bird. Other elements will be picked up in a wider review of the licensing system that NE will be conducting in the summer, in full consultation with everyone interested in wildlife licences.
Interested to see the evidential studies you are using to develop/that underpin these licences.
We will provide these once they have been completed.
In terms of the new general licences being published, it would be useful for the change from the previous set to be highlighted for the individuals. People who have been using these general licences since 1992 will need you to pull out clearly these changes so we can easily communicate.
We understand those concerns but as we are proceeding at pace it may not be possible to provide this sort of analysis at this stage. We have tried to make the licences and the conditions as clear as possible and would urge users to read them before taking action under them. If there are aspects of the licence which are unclear please let us know and we will address if possible.
What are NE doing to get this out to publications?
Natural England does not produce hard copies of any of its publications.
The new licensing we are seeing on Carrion Crows is about 11 pages – this isn’t light touch and looks a lot more complicated to hundreds of confused stakeholders regarding this.
These new licences are an interim measure and any new conditions or restrictions they contain are solely for the purpose of addressing points raised by the recent legal challenge. Our aim is to avoid any unnecessary burdens on the user.
Over the summer NE will be conducting a wider review of the licensing system, in full consultation with everyone interested in wildlife licences, so that we can put in place a robust and proportionate licensing system which takes into account the needs of wildlife and people.
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