Interim measures for controlling birds now that general licences have been revoked
Last night (Thursday 25 April) the general licences for bird control in England were revoked after a legal challenge.
Natural England is expected to release new licences next week; however, pest management professionals can still legally use lethal control of wild birds to:
- To prevent serious damage and disease
- To conserve wild birds, wild flora and fauna
- To protect public health and safety.
However, you must have followed and satisfied all of the required steps for each individual case.
In short, BPCA’s guidance is that those controlling pests before the new general licences have been released should apply for an individual licence from Natural England.
Natural England has stated that there are three options for controlling the 16 species of birds, including several members of the crow family, Canada geese, some gulls, feral and wood pigeons.
For most pest management professionals, BPCA expects that in the interim, you will have to use option 3 because of the time critical nature of public health pest management.
Option 1: Wait for the new licences
Natural England has said:
“New licences are due to go live on gov.uk from 26 April and over the following days.
“These will cover the majority of circumstances previously covered by the revoked licences, to ensure landowners can continue to take necessary action, whilst also taking into account the needs of wildlife.
“If you are able to wait until the licence you need becomes available you can rely on this and need take no further action if you satisfied that it covers your circumstances”.
An indicative timeline for these new licences is included at the bottom of this release.
Option 2: Apply for individual licences
Natural England has said:
“Anybody who needs to act within the law to control wild birds before the licence they need is ready can rely on a simple online application system for individual licences.
“This went live on Thursday evening (25 April)”.
Option 3: If you need to kill birds before you get a licence
Pest management professionals will normally have to carry out lethal control before getting a confirmed licence back from Natural England.
The process for this seems to be:
- Exhaust all non-lethal control measures
- Submit an application for an individual licence (available here)
- Conduct the lethal control of the wild bird
- Notify Natural England as soon as possible about what you’ve done and why (email@example.com).
We can’t stress enough that you must have followed and satisfied all of the required steps for each individual case.
The Natural England website states:
“If you require lethal control to be carried out before the determination of your licence application then you may not commit an offence provided that you do the following.
“You must be able to show that your action is necessary for the purpose of:
- “preserving public health or public safety or air safety;
- “preventing the spread of disease; or
- “preventing serious damage to livestock, their foodstuffs, crops, vegetables, fruit, growing timber, fisheries or inland waters. You must also be able to show that there was no other satisfactory solution available for preventing such serious damage.
“In addition, you must have submitted the relevant application for a licence for the relevant purpose above and notified Natural England.
“If action is taken to prevent serious damage outlined above, Natural England must be notified as soon as reasonably practical after you have taken the action. This can be done by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Problems with the Natural England licence applications and mailboxes
We’ve seen reports that the Natural England licence application form doesn’t open for some users.
This has been reported to Natural England, however, it seems that you can open the PDF document with Adobe Reader, rather than viewing it in an internet browser.
Some users have experienced emails bouncing back from the Natural England site.