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New Scottish General Licences for 2020

SNH has announced new Scottish General Licences for 2020.

New Scottish General Licences for 2020

From 1st April, SNH is proposing to restrict General Licences for protected sites. Anyone wishing to use them on protected sites will first need to speak with SNH first. To be clear, they are apparently not proposing to remove GLs from protected sites, but asking those who need to use them on protected sites to contact SNH for clarification. Makes sense? No, it does not make any sense for us either.

SNH admit there is no evidence for this change and do not argue that pest species do not need to be controlled on protected sites, but are applying the 'precautionary principle' anyway, just in case GLs are bad for protected sites and their fauna and flora. In SACS' view a major change based on admittedly no clear evidence and no science is both disproportionate and unjustifiable.

The new GLs, summary information and related protected sites maps can be found via the links below. SACS and partner bodies will be working together on this in our members' interests.

A summary of the changes is as follows:

GL1 – conservation
GBB gull and rook removed

GL2 – serious damage
Removed: collared dove, GBB gull
Extend control period: resident greylag goose

GL3 – public safety, health, disease control
Removed: woodpigeon, LBB gull, GBB gull, herring gull, carrion crow, collared dove, jackdaw, magpie, rook, hooded crow

Trapper registration

  • SNH to manage cage trap registrations – new web link for folk to register
  • One-year transition for existing trap operator numbers
  • New registration will last for 5 years

The trapper registration changes are sensible and in our view overdue.

Raven not on General Licence, but simplified licence application process

Designated sites (this is the main area of contention)
Summary of SNH text:

“Anyone intending to use a General Licence on certain Special Protection Areas and Special Areas of Conservation can only do so with approval from our licensing team.
Given their particular importance to conservation, we must ensure that any impacts on a site are properly considered before any plan or project can be undertaken, using a process known as a Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA).
Some types of activity which are allowed under General Licences have the potential to affect both Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs); therefore we have completed a new HRA for General Licences 1-3 in order to conclude whether any additional restriction is necessary.

They go on to say:

"Although there is no clear evidence that their use is having an adverse impact on the integrity of any protected area, there is potential to do so. As a result, a number of sites in Scotland will be excluded, which will prevent users from operating under the General Licences here without prior approval from our licensing team. The permitting arrangements will take in to account the sensitivity of particular features for which each site is protected and whether it could or will be impacted by actions authorised by the General Licences.

We are developing simple assessment arrangements and where individual permission is sought for activities on excluded sites. We will then consider the potential impacts and any necessary conditions/restrictions to enable approval where possible.”