Wild bird general licences: Defra and Natural England's approach

How Defra and Natural England license the control of certain wild bird species.

Applies to England


The Defra and Natural England approach to general licensing for wild birds

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This position statement sets out how the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and Natural England license the control of certain wild bird species.

Three new general licences for the killing or taking of wild birds in England were issued at 00:01 on Friday 14 June 2019.

The new licences allow users to control certain species of wild birds to:

  • conserve wild birds and flora or fauna (GL34)
  • preserve public health or public safety (GL35)
  • prevent serious damage to livestock, foodstuffs for livestock, crops, vegetables, fruit, growing timber, fisheries or inland waters (GL36)

The decision to issue the new licences follows Defra’s formal evidence-gathering exercise. This allowed concerned parties to explain the impact that the withdrawal of the 3 general licences GL04, GL05 and GL06 had on the management of wild birds.

The call for evidence Use of general licences for the management of certain wild birds closed on Monday 13 May, with over 4,000 responses submitted. Having also sought views on the usability of potential licensing options, the 3 new general licences seek to protect wild birds while recognising the legitimate needs of people and other wildlife.

The 3 new general licences cover species and specific purposes that Defra considers appropriate in light of the information-gathering exercise and other evidence, including statutory advice from Natural England. At this stage, the new licences will not apply to European protected sites.

The licences will be valid until 29 February 2020.

Defra will lead a review of the longer term general licensing arrangements and intends to launch an initial public consultation in the summer. Defra will work closely on this review with Natural England, who have already indicated the need to examine a wider range of general and class licences.

Published 14 June 2019