From Monday 7 October, NRW will issue new general licences. There will be some changes to the licences and the following information will help you prepare for any changes you may need to make.
Further detailed information will be made available as we publish the new licences on our website on 7 October.
Why has NRW issued new General Licences?
In light of legal advice we concluded that some of our General Licences were not lawful. We have a duty as the regulator to ensure we are acting lawfully. We have subsequently reviewed the evidence base on which some of our General Licences are issued, and the conditions within them, and talked to stakeholders about the changes that might be needed. As a result, we will be withdrawing one General Licence completely and replacing four others.
How are the new General Licences different to the old ones?
We will be making some changes to the species covered by the new General Licences where we did not feel the evidence to retain them on the General Licence approach was strong enough:
- GL001 - Prevent serious damage to livestock, foodstuffs for livestock, crops, vegetables or fruit or to prevent the spread of disease to livestock, foodstuffs for livestock, crops, vegetables or fruit. This will not now include rook, jay or collared dove. We have also revised the purpose of this general Licence so as to be for the spread of disease to livestock, foodstuffs for livestock, crops, vegetables or fruit.
- GL002 - Preserving public health and preventing the spread of disease. This will not now include carrion crow, magpie, jackdaw, rook, jay, collared dove or wood pigeon.
iii. GL004 - Conservation of wild birds. This will not now include rook, feral pigeon or Canada goose.
Why will rooks be excluded in the new General Licences?
Findings from the UK Breeding Bird Survey suggest that in Wales rook populations have significantly declined over both the long term (by 60% between 1994-2017) and in the short-term (by 50% between 2007-2017). Due to the significance of this population change, rook will not been included in the new General Licences.
How have you reviewed the evidence base?
Our review of the evidence base focused on two main questions:
What is the extent and quality of evidence available to support inclusion of the 15 species of wild bird listed on the old General Licences, GL001, 002 and 004, in Wales?
What is the evidence to determine there are no other satisfactory solutions available other than lethal measures or capture?
What should I do if I need to control a species that is no longer included on a General Licence?
You will need to apply for a specific licence from NRW. Applications for specific licences can be made at any time. We will ask for evidence to support your application, including what steps you have taken to deter the birds and evidence of the damage they are causing or are likely to cause. This could be photographic or video evidence.
Why will there no longer a General Licence 003 for aviation safety?
Due to the small number of aerodromes and airfields in Wales, and the various species encountered at the different locations, the control birds for aviation safety will be subject to the individual licence application process.
Will the new General Licences apply in protected sites?
The old licence could not be used within any of Wales’ 1078 SSSIs, unless the user first obtained written permission from NRW. In contrast, these new General Licences will allow the control of birds within the majority of protected sites in Wales. However, they will not apply in, or within 300 metres of, 203 of the SSSIs in Wales. In addition, for one protected site – the Dyfi Estuary SSSI – the General Licences will not apply within 500 metres of the site boundary.
The list of protected sites where the General Licences do not apply will be published as an Annex at the end of each of the General Licences and the locations of the excluded areas will be available online.
Would I be prosecuted for using the old General Licences?
The old General Licences will not be active from 7 October 2019. Anyone who doesn’t comply with the new licences will not be able to rely on the old licence as a defence to any action taken.
How has NRW involved stakeholders?
We have shared information and tested our approach with both General Licence user and non-user stakeholder representatives. We have used information they have provided as part of our evidence base.
What could I do if I am not happy with the changes NRW has made?
We will be carrying out a review of all bird control licencing in Wales in 2020. You will be able to contribute to the review. More details will be published in Spring 2020.
Will EU Exit have any impact on General Licences?
We don’t think so. The legislation under which General Licences are issued is within a UK Act of Parliament (section 16 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, as amended) and as such is not being amended in connection with EU Exit. NRW is not aware of any proposals to amend the statutory basis of General Licences in Wales.
Natural Resources Wales (NRW) issues general licences to allow certain actions to be carried out, that would otherwise be illegal, without the need to apply for a specific licence. Each general licence is issued for a particular purpose and some are limited to certain species only.
If you plan to act under a general licence, you must be satisfied that you are acting within the provisions of that general licence and therefore the law. It is your responsibility to read the licence conditions to ensure that your situation is covered and to comply with the conditions.
For actions not covered by a general licence, you need to make your own application for a bird licence. See ‘Bird licensing’ for further details. General licences are attached to this webpage.
NRW also issues general licences for possession by museums etc and for taxidermy, see ‘Possession and Sale of Protected Species’ for more information.