Gamebird releasing on or near EU protected sites – an update

General licence GL43, which permits the release of pheasants and red-legged partridges on and within 500m of the boundary of European protected sites in England has been granted for another 12 months until 30th May 2023. See here for further details.

Some of the key licence conditions are based on GWCT’s science based sustainable gamebird releasing guidelines. Complying with these guidelines, on any site, irrespective of their proximity to a protected site will help ensure shoots are delivering a net biodiversity gain.

GWCT are reminding shoot managers that any releasing activity undertaken under GL43 must be reported to Natural England within one month of releasing, stating the total number and species of gamebirds, along with the release pen site and stocking density. Further details here.

In practice, European protected sites are also designated as a SSSI and can be subject to a requirement to gain consent from Natural England for certain activities on the site itself – as is the case with SSSIs that are not designated as EU sites. For further details about how to get SSSI consent, check Natural England’s guidance here. For shoots operating outside of designated areas or any relevant buffer zones, shoots have an obligation to complete the Defra poultry register. For further information please contact the GWCT at advisory@gwct.org.uk.

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