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Defra reissues wild bird control licences
The general licences allow users to kill or take certain species of brids for a variety of reasons.

Licences allow users to kill carrion crows and wood pigeons

Six general licences for the control of wild birds have been reissued by Defra on a temporary basis, ahead of new licences coming into force on 1 August 2020.

The licences will be reissued from 1 March to 31 July. Defra states that no action is required by licence users, beyond the ongoing requirement to act in accordance with the licence conditions.

The six licences are:

    •    Carrion crows: licence to kill or take them to prevent serious damage to livestock (GL26)
    •    Canada geese: licence to kill or take them for public health and safety (GL28)
    •    Wood pigeons: licence to kill or take them to prevent serious damage to crops (GL31)
    •    Licence to kill or take wild birds to conserve wild birds and to conserve flora and fauna (GL34)
    •    Licence to kill or take wild birds to preserve public health or public safety (GL35)
    •    Licence to kill or take wild birds to prevent serious damage to livestock, foodstuffs for livestock, crops, vegetables, fruit, growing timber, fisheries or inland waters (GL36).

The general licences allow users to kill or take certain species for a variety of purposes, including conservation, the protection of livestock or crops, or public health and safety.

Defra states that the move is necessary ‘to complete the required analysis of evidence, both from scientific sources and from the online survey, and to hold further stakeholder workshops so that longer-term licensing arrangements are informed by the best available evidence’.

Former environment secretary Theresa Villiers said: “We are working intensively on delivering a robust licensing system for the future which balances the different interests at stake in a fair way. To do that, we need to ensure that we have carefully considered all of the relevant evidence, including the detailed responses to our online survey.

“This extensive consultation and review process will be completed in the coming months, with the new licences coming into force on 1 August.”

NFU deputy president Guy Smith said: “Farmers’ ability to control wood pigeons and carrion crows on their farms is absolutely vital to protect vulnerable, young livestock and prevent damage to crops.

“The NFU has been clear that the new general licences regime needs to be fit for purpose, more transparent and accessible for farmers. Defra has the power to grant general licences and we do not believe that individual licences should replace the current arrangements - this would result in an overly complex system which would not deliver the protection for farm animals and crops it intends.

“General licences are particularly vital at this time of year for many farmers who need to protect lambs and emerging crops. As the current licences are due to expire at the end of February, farmers need urgent clarity from Defra as to what the new licences will look like in order to avoid the same confusion many farmers experienced last year.”

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