Tel: +44 (0) 1350 724 228

You are here: Home | News

LATEST SACS UPDATE ON ENGLISH GENERAL LICENCES

AS AT 11.50AM THURSDAY 25TH APRIL

LATEST SACS UPDATE ON ENGLISH GENERAL LICENCES

With thanks to SACS member Dan, please see letter from Michael Gove to MPs on the General Licences (GLs) debacle.

/media/uploads/cat-253/michael-gove-gl-response-1.jpg

/media/uploads/cat-253/michael-gove-gl-response-2.jpg

UPDATE FROM SACS:

- The old GLs will cease to be valid from midnight tonight (Thursday 25th). So you cannot control wild birds in the same way until you either have an appropriate Individual Licence (see below) or new GLs have been issued.

- The current plan is for new legally correct GLs to start to be drafted and issued on a prioritised basis from next Monday.

- Previously we were advised that there was to be a new simplified online application process for Individual Licences, which would replace the old GLs until new ones were approved i.e. an interim measure. NE have advised that these simplified Individual Licences will be prioritised e.g. gamekeepers and farmers to the fore. As things currently stand (11.30 am Thursday 25th April) we do not have any information on how this online Individual Licence application system will work, but will keep members informed.

- What we cannot fathom is how on earth interim Individual Licences can be effectively issued to so many, as by the time they are issued the new GLs may hopefully be issued anyway. We will advise as we know more.

- Although new GLs will be issued with work starting on Monday, this will clearly take time and we cannot see how this can be sorted out within 24 hours - within a few days seems more likely. Again, we will advise members as we know more.

- Although new GLs will be issued with work starting on Monday, this will clearly take time and we cannot see how this can be sorted out within 24 hours - within a few weeks seems more likely. Again, we will advise members as we know more.

- A number of suggestions, including an excellent suggestion by a senior SACS gamekeeper member and adviser, have been put forward on how GLs can be reissued more quickly with certain added wording.

- In relation to the new GLs, we do not yet know the format for the new GLs, but we are advised that they may be on a more species specific basis.

NATURAL ENGLAND CRITICISM

On behalf of members affected by this NE GL issue, SACS welcomes all steps by Natural England to get new GLs up and running quickly.

We fully understand that Natural England, like so many Government agencies across the UK, has lost staff and resource due to severe cutbacks. We totally empathise with them and are fortunate to have members south of the border with strong working relationships with NE on many levels. Some of our members work for NE or on NE projects.

What we have here is a proper cock-up - that's just the reality of it. To be clear, despite the last minute legal direction from NE legal team to revoke General Licences, NE has had many weeks to get to grips with this legal challenge, which was to many of us 'old news'. That said, the principle issue is not the NE legal cock-up in how old GLs were issued for 8 years, which can effectively be resolved by new legally correct GLs being issued, but the unacceptable manner in which NE announced a revocation of GLs with less than two days notice. That was unacceptable and has caused our members and so many others considerable concern.

So where now? Going forward, we all need to work better together. We have had issues in the past where SACS has been justly critical of agencies and agencies justly critical of SACS. It's simply part of the breadth of our work and the challenges presented by our work - it is about a mature approach to partnership working. The end result of this dialogue has been a better, warmer and far more effective working relationship where we deal with problems in a friendly, proactive and proportionate way. There are lessons to be learned here and we look forward to working positively with Natural England on many other matters.

For sure, the NE short notice revocation announcement was poor judgement, especially when so many of us knew the legal issue for weeks before, but please let's moderate the criticism of NE and its hard-working staff. There have been some really nasty things said about NE and none of this helps take us forward from this situation. Respect and courtesy are essential. This cock-up will be resolved. This is not a ban on shooting and as a result we will likely have stronger and clearer General Licences that plonkers such as Avery and Packham can no longer legally challenge.

We will keep members updated as we know more.