Defra publishes general licences summary after call for evidence

Defra has confirmed it received more than 4,000 responses to the call for evidence over general licences.

Among those to respond were 36 local and national organisations.

Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has now decided to issue time-limited general licences. Three licences were issued last month.

His decision is based on information gathered through the call for evidence as well as other relevant evidence, including statutory advice from Natural England.

Defra says it will lead a further review of general licences later this year, working closely with Natural England.

The review will include an initial public consultation to give users an opportunity to engage once again by submitting any further evidence they would like considered.

On the topic of the responses received to the call for evidence, Defra says: “The majority of the problems cited as being caused by pigeons related to loss of crops, while corvids were cited as causing problems around loss of livestock and crops.

“There were also many references to benefits relating to the conservation licence, again mostly linked to the control of corvids. Overall, very few responses related to public health and safety, although professional pest control organisations submitted evidence on this front.”

In a summary of its response, Defra said: “A wide range of organisations and individuals raised concerns at the risks arising from the removal of the licences and, in particular, the adverse impact caused by such an abrupt decision.

“On damage to livestock, for example, many stakeholders had experienced crow attacks on lambs and ewes during lambing which had resulted in their death, and some submitted photographic evidence of this.

“Many people reported damage to crops, for example from woodpigeons feeding on emerging seedlings of peas, brassicas and oil seed rape, often severely damaging crop sowings.

“With regard to conserving wild birds, many stakeholders reported impacts on red-listed birds such as lapwing and skylark, including eggs and fledglings being vulnerable to predation, particularly from corvids, and nests being destroyed, for example by Canada and Egyptian geese.”

The full response can be read here.

About Author