Natural England has revoked three general licences for controlling certain wild birds as of Thursday 25 April 2019, which cover 16 species of birds including several members of the crow family, Canada goose, some gulls and pigeons.
This hub has been created to provide NFU members with access to the latest information and resources surrounding licences to control wild birds.
The NFU submitted evidence to Defra's consultation on the impact of Natural England’s decision to revoke general licences to control woodpigeons and crows.
The evidence was compiled from evidence submitted to the NFU by hundreds of its members who said the revocation meant they were struggling to protect lambs from being attacked and crops from being devastated.
The evidence also includes:
- The lack of warning which caused significant confusion and legal uncertainty for farmers.
- Continued exposure to legal uncertainty due to the rushed and unclear temporary mitigation processes, which included issues in applying for and the issuing of individual licences.
- Inconsistencies in replacement licences resulting in a lack of clarity between what is a legal requirement and what is simply guidance.
- The substantial economic impact on farmers costing businesses thousands of pounds, as well as unacceptable distress to livestock.
NFU Deputy President Guy Smith said:
“With the growing season and lambing underway, the sudden revocation of these general licences could not have occurred at a worse time in the farming calendar. It has left members without the necessary legal certainty as to how they can protect their livestock and crops from being attacked.
“The NFU has received hundreds of responses in the past few days to its own call for evidence which illustrates the strength of feeling across the breadth of our membership.
“We have heard directly from our members how the revocation has not only increased worry for the farmer, but is causing unnecessary stress to farm animals and has caused mortality in lambs.
“It is also clear from our members’ responses that lethal control methods are not used lightly. Yet, they remain absolutely necessary in increasing lamb survival, reducing crop damage and protecting food hygiene when other methods either need reinforcement or have failed completely.
“Defra must take immediate action to ensure that the replacement licences not only give clear legal direction for farmers, but meet the very real needs of farming businesses and allow farmers to effectively protect their livelihoods.”
Defra opened a consultation in May seeking views from all concerned parties about the impact of the withdrawal of the three general licences for controlling certain wild birds (GL04, GL05 and GL06) on 25 April 2019. The NFU coordinated a response to the consultation including evidence submitted by hundreds of NFU members about the impact the revocation of the general licences has had and the confusion this caused among farmers at such a sensitive time of year.
The NFU has written to Defra Secretary of State Michael Gove, along with other rural and farming organisations, highlighting concerns around the removal of general licences. Read the letter.
If you're using gas guns as a deterrent to help control and limit the damage caused by birds, here's a guide to using them responsibly to avoid noise complaints from neighbours.
The NFU code is often used by local authorities as a source reference for their guides on the use of gas guns. By adhering to it, you can reduce complaints of nuisance from the public and limit avoid any enforcement action by local councils.
Some simple steps to help make gas guns more effective and to limit any disturbance include:
- Thinking about location – place guns as far away as practicable from neighbours, point them away from neighbours and use baffles.
- Thinking about timing – avoid using them before 7am or after 10pm – and alter timings to take account of seasonal changes. As a general rule never use before sunrise or after sunset.
- Avoiding use on Sundays.
- Checking timers work and are set correctly. If using a photoelectric cell check that it is clean and preferably have a mechanical timer as well as a backup.
- Ensuring that your neighbours know who to contact if the gun develops a fault so that it can be put right.
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