Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has announced it will launch a 12-week consultation about wild birds today.
The consultation covers circumstances when wild birds can be controlled under General Licence. All wild birds are protected by law. But in some circumstances, SNH allows wild birds to be controlled – for example, to prevent serious damage to crops, protect public health, and ensure air safety when flocks of birds are liable to get in flight paths.
Robbie Kernahan, SNH’s Head of Wildlife Management, said:
“Our role is to help wild birds thrive, but we must balance this with making sure the public is safe from health and safety risks, as well as ensuring that farmers can protect their crops.
“We have brought forward our planned consultation in light of the ongoing legal challenges in England. We want to ensure that our licences take into account the implications of those challenges and remain clear, proportionate and fit-for-purpose.
“The consultation, along with our ongoing work, will provide us with valuable feedback – this will allow us to consider if we need to make changes to the current set of licenses for 2020.”
General Licences cover relatively common situations – such as preventing agricultural damage and protecting public health and safety – when there’s unlikely to be any conservation impact on a species. They avoid the need for people to apply for individual licences for these specific situations. General Licences must strike the appropriate balance between species conservation and a range of other legitimate interests.
SNH is looking for feedback specifically on the three most commonly used General Licences: those covering conserving wild birds, preventing damage to agricultural interests, and protecting public health and safety.
“We would like to reassure those who are currently operating under the current 2019 General Licences in Scotland that these remain in place, allowing those who comply with the conditions to continue to use them.”
The consultation documents are available at https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/2019GL/
General Licences don’t require operators to contact SNH before using them and most don’t require return information to be submitted on their use. They represent a streamlined approach to licensing for relatively common situations where the conservation risk to target birds is low. There are conditions attached to General Licences and failure to comply with their terms and conditions can result in an offence.
Scottish Natural Heritage is the government’s adviser on all aspects of nature and landscape across Scotland. Our role is to help everyone understand, value and enjoy Scotland’s nature now and in the future. For more information, visit our website at www.nature.scot. SNH media is also on Twitter at www.twitter.com/snh_tweets