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STOP PRESS: ANOTHER URGENT UPDATE FROM NATURAL ENGLAND

**Update at 8.30pm Thursday: NE IT staff have put the wrong settings on the editable pdf forms for the licence application process. It will be back up and running in the morning.**


Further to our earlier post today, here's the very latest from Natural England as at 1.15pm Thursday 25th April:

STOP PRESS: ANOTHER URGENT UPDATE FROM NATURAL ENGLAND

INTERIM INDIVIDUAL LICENCE APPLICATIONS

  • From around 7pm tonight (Thursday 25th) Natural England will go live with an online application portal on their .gov website for folk to apply for the interim Individual Licences.
  • This will be based on a number of urgent prioritised licence needs e.g. conservation or livestock/crop protection.
  • The application process will apparently be quick and simple with a quick response from NE.

INTERIM LICENCES : CROP AND LIVESTOCK PROTECTION PURPOSES

Section 4 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 offers a legal defence for, amongst other things, preventing serious damage to livestock, foodstuffs for livestock and crops by killing or injuring a wild bird. Important: this is a legal defence that can be used if prosecuted, not a licence to control. Technically, you may still be prosecuted, it’s just that there is a defence in law. Also, you must be able to demonstrate that there was no alternative option available to you at the time.

Whilst Natural England are emphasising that the Section 4 defence (above) should suffice for livestock and crop protection between midnight tonight and whenever new General Licences are issued next week, SACS guidance to members is not to rely on this legal defence, but to apply for a Licence online in any case.

INTERIM LICENCES : CONSERVATION PURPOSES (i.e. gamekeepers)

Unlike for farmers protecting livestock and crops, there is currently no Wildlife & Countryside Act legal defence for the killing of wild birds for conservation purposes.

NE say that the online application process to go live tonight (estimated at around 7pm by the time IT servers are updated) will cater for conservation purpose needs e.g. gamekeepers needing to continue to use Larsen traps to control corvids for conservation purposes. These online applications will be processed ASAP.

TWO COMMON SCENARIOS AND WHAT TO DO

  1. I NEED TO CONTROL PIGEONS AND CORVIDS TO PROTECT LIVESTOCK AND CROPS

    NE advise that the Section 4 legal defence as outlined above will be sufficient to cover this control until new General Licences are issued. Therefore, according to them, you do not need to apply online for an Individual Licence.

    However, SACS advises that this is a perilous direction and anyone needing to control wild birds for agricultural purposes should either apply online for an interim Individual Licence from this evening or just wait until the new relevant General Licence is issued hopefully next week.
  2. I NEED TO CONTROL CORVIDS FOR CONSERVATION PURPOSES

    From this evening you will need to apply online for an Individual Licence, which will cover you until a new relevant General Licence is issued or, unlikely for most gamekeepers, wait until the new relevant General Licence is issued.

NEW GENERAL LICENCES

New General Licences, albeit different to before and perhaps more species specific, will start to be launched from Monday next week. This will tajke 3-4 days to implement. Again, this will be prioritised according to urgent need - Larsen and other trapping, pigeon and corvid shooting for crop protection etc.

SACS has members on standby to start to make the new applications and ensure the system works. we do not know how good this IT system will be, but NE and Gov staff are working on it now. Again - this should go live from 7pm tonight.

As promised, SACS will continue to update you as we know more.