Statement from Wild Justice (3/3): What happens now?

Natural England (NE) say they are going to consult on the General Licences.  In the meantime, NE has decided that anyone wanting to kill any of the species listed on the three General Licences which will be revoked on Thursday 25 April will need to apply for an individual licence giving grounds and evidence, as the law requires, for why lethal means are necessary because alternative options are not available.

This will not affect lethal control of mammals such as Foxes and Stoats.

It should not affect air safety as airports are perfectly familiar with applying for individual licences under such measures for control of other species of bird.

It will affect gamekeeping where killing of Crows etc will rarely be authorisable to protect livestock as free-flying gamebirds are not livestock and will rarely if ever be authorisable to protect songbirds as the science does not support any role of species such as Magpie or Carrion Crow (let alone Jay or Jackdaw) in songbird declines.  There is a big question mark over the legality of gamekeeping as currently practised and NE will be under the spotlight on this subject.

Some conservation organisations currently carry out predator control under the General Licences – they will need to apply for licences if they wish to continue.

In the longer term, by the end of 2019, NE says it will consult on options.  Wild Justice will be keen to play a positive part in that consultation.  We would have been content for that to take place with the 2019 licences still in place – it was NE which decided to terminate them early.

Wild Justice says

We are delighted to have won this legal case. What sort of world is it where the statutory body with responsibility for wildlife protection is operating a bird-killing licensing scheme that is unlawful? Millions of birds are killed each year under the terms of the General Licences and many of these deaths will not be justified. 

We are grateful to over 1100 individuals who funded this legal challenge and allowed us to take it with the means to progress it through the courts. 

NE could have, and in our view should have, conceded the correctness of our case many weeks ago.  This would have reduced the financial costs to the public and allowed farmers and land managers more time to adjust to the news that their bird-killing actions may have been illegal for several decades.

This is a mess of Natural England’s making – they have operated an unlawful licensing system and they have dillied and dallied over admitting it’.

Wild Justice – Mark Avery, Chris Packham and Ruth Tingay


19 Responses to “Statement from Wild Justice (3/3): What happens now?”

  1. 1 Roy Hicks
    April 24, 2019 at 4:34 pm

    thanks to natural England buzzards have been practically wiped out where i live in York, they should all hang their thick heads in shame, they instigated licences that could not possibly be policed leading to indiscriminate killing of birds by any tom / dick or harry

    • 2 Chris Barber
      April 25, 2019 at 1:26 am

      Actually Roy, NOT thanks to Natural England. Some of you have very skewed memories. NE consistently refused to issue licenses to kill buzzards. There was a Judicial Review, and then an appeal which upheld the licence application. NE then had no choice but to start issuing some licenses. The fact that this situation was abused by some people deciding this meant they could go ahead with impunity, and they didn’t feel the need to bother with obtaining a license is not the fault of NE. I believe that was the very reason they refused licenses initially.

    • April 25, 2019 at 2:05 am

      Buzzards aren’t covered by the GLs and there’s barely a day goes by that I don’t see one, also around York, far from being wiped out here.

  2. 4 James Thomson
    April 24, 2019 at 4:53 pm

    I see SNH is sitting on the fence as usual waiting to see what happens.

  3. April 24, 2019 at 5:45 pm

    Thats good news and a step in the right direction. Well done to Wild Justice

  4. 6 Bill Gilmour
    April 24, 2019 at 5:50 pm

    Well, that is good news – but!

    Over five years, Natural England issued licences to destroy 170,000 wild birds, eggs and nests; 34,000 a year.


    Greylag goose 67,586
    Mallard 21,939
    Herring gull 16,052
    Cormorant 12,033
    Black-headed gull 10,474
    Brent goose 6,955
    Moorhen 6,008
    Barnacle goose 3,688
    Woodpigeon 3,310
    Starling 2,280
    Other 20,533

    Does anyone expect, that many people, who applied for licenses to kill any of those, will stop shooting them?

  5. April 24, 2019 at 6:26 pm

    A quick phone call to SNH today confirmed that they are taking the view that they dont need to change their general license. Whats the chance of a court case in Edinburgh?

  6. 8 Raymond John Clark
    April 24, 2019 at 10:03 pm

    This will certainly not help the Curlew and Lapwing ,

    • 9 Gerard
      April 25, 2019 at 12:06 am

      No, that will be changes in farming practice involving not sterilising the countryside.

    • 10 Chris Barber
      April 25, 2019 at 1:33 am

      No, it won’t Raymond. This is a sledge hammer to crack a nut situation. This “mess” is not Natural England’s making, this result was entirely predictable, and exactly what was intended.

      • April 25, 2019 at 10:41 am

        The intention was to obey the law. Do you have a problem with that?

        • 12 Chris Barber
          April 25, 2019 at 12:28 pm

          If the law is good, and fit for purpose, I have no problem with it. Examining a loophole, and finding reasonable ways to close it is one thing, what has been done is something else entirely… It has implications far beyond the scope of single issue pressure groups, but who cares, as long as “the nasty brigade” get a bloody nose.

          • 13 Goshawk
            April 29, 2019 at 12:53 am

            Why are you speaking in riddles?

            “Something else entirely” – which is?

            “Implications far beyond the scope of single issue pressure groups” – which are?

            I find it utterly bizarre that you can be so negative about the proper requirement of a justification to kill our wildlife. Your post is simply hyperbole masquerading as concern.

            • 14 Chris Barber
              May 4, 2019 at 1:28 am


              Something else entirely = an attempt to shut down game shooting entirely. You know this as well as I do. It’s what LACS and Onekind want…

              Implications far beyond the scope of single issue pressure groups = The effect it will have on crop protection, removal of pigeons to prevent contamination of foods, and public health safety. Dealing with gulls where they constitute a health or safety issue, ie landfill sites. Speak to many of the legitimate pest control companies, they can give better info on this.

              It’s not about a proper requirement for justification, is it! Hyperbole masquerading as concern? No, it’s my opinion. I’m no fan of shooting, but neither am I a fan of protectionism. Conservation is far more of a complex issue for either side to have the answers!

              I will not be coming back to this, I don’t have the time for it, but feel free to disagree.

      • 15 dave angel
        April 25, 2019 at 1:45 pm

        If the mess was entirely predictable why did NE not invite people to submit individual applications as soon as they became aware of the legal action?

        If they had done so there could have been a seamless transition from the old, illegal, procedure to the new, compliant with the legislation, procedure.

        Nature England appear to have an arrogant and complacent corporate culture.

    • 16 Waders
      April 29, 2019 at 12:57 am

      If you were really concerned about the curlew and lapwing, you’d be lobbying for changes in the way we use our land, instead of championing the senseless killing of corvids.

  7. 17 Ben Gun
    April 25, 2019 at 8:05 am

    Well done to all. Scotland next.

    First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

  8. April 25, 2019 at 9:29 am

    Sadly…. put the euphoria on hold ;
    Many forget that keepers and others have been illegally destroying raptors and whatever else they want, out of sight with no deterrents.
    They will continue to destroy.
    e.g. if all large raptors can be killed , as they are on, on large areas of countryside, the destruction of e.g. crows and ravens at the nest and elsewhere, using silenced weapons, continues to be very easy.
    An understanding of the methods they use is essential if the destruction is to be controlled.

    Keep up the pressure !

  9. 19 matthew dalby
    April 26, 2019 at 12:06 am

    Definitely a step in the right direction, however NE still need to be watched to see how they administer individual licences. For example if a landowner applies for a licence and says on the application that they have tried various methods of non lethal control will NE just take their word for it or will they do spot checks over a number of years to verify that the non lethal methods are being used and aren’t working. I seem to remember that when SNH have revoked general licences from various estates they have issued individual licences with very few if any checks so the estates have been able to kill the same number of birds. My worry is that the same thing will happen in England. Probably the biggest problem is that NE simply doesn’t have the staff or funding to properly enforce any licencing scheme and is forced to rubber stamp applications rather than investigate them properly and potentially face a lengthy and costly appeal from wealthy landowners. Surely the best solution to this is to introduce a fee for applying for licences. Also, as several people have already pointed out there is the issue of illegal killing. Is an underfunded police force going to investigate the killing of a few crows or gulls?
    Well done Wild Justice for a small victory, but there is still a long fight ahead to end the pointless slaughter of British birds.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Blog Stats

  • 5,334,156 hits


Our recent blog visitors