Defra publishes general licence to permit the release of gamebirds on and within 500m of SACs but not SPAs in England

Further to yesterday’s blog, Defra has now published GL43, the general licence that permits the release of gamebirds on or within a 500m buffer zone of certain protected sites in England.

The licence will run for two years and will cover shoots releasing gamebirds in or within 500m of Special Areas of Conservation (SACs).

The licence does not have to be applied for, but users must comply with the conditions set within the licence, which includes reporting if you are releasing 50 or more common pheasants or red-legged partridges within an SAC or its buffer zone.

Use the online reporting form to submit your information to Natural England. If you’re unable to access this form, you can email your information to Natural England on gamebirds@naturalengland.org.uk.

Unlike last year, GL43 does not cover the release of gamebirds on or within 500m of Special Protection Areas (SPAs), meaning it is illegal to release gamebirds in those areas without an individual licence. A pre-screening survey is being used to help apply for an individual licence on the Defra website

We urge all shoots that are potentially affected by this licence change to undertake the pre-screening survey as soon as possible. The GWCT is liaising with stakeholder organisations to seek reassurance from Defra and Natural England that there is sufficient capacity to deal with individual licence applications promptly and efficiently to ensure the sector is not negatively impacted by these changes to the licence.

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General Licence releasing pheasants

at 15:13 on 08/06/2023 by Guy Woolley

There is absolutely no need for a general licence for the release of game birds in any special area as there is no proof as what difference this will make to the spread of flue or any other aspect of the countryside other than costing money that could be spent on conservation.

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