Following on from the shock announcement on Tuesday 23rd April from Natural England that they are revoking three of the General Licences one of which relates to the taking of Woodpigeons and Corvids and which legally allowed us to do so we have sought advice from several of our shooting organisations, BASC, NGO, CA as well as legal advice from our lawyers. Unfortunately to avoid breaking the law we are obliged to suspend all our pigeon/corvid shooting until further notice.
Natural England advises that in due course new licences will be issued but whether that will allow us to continue as before is unknown.
We apologies for any inconvenience this causes but regret there is little we can do at this time other than comply. The penalties for non-compliance can be an un-limited fine and 6 months imprisonment.
We’ve been very busy dealing with this all last week as since Thursday when nobody has been able to shoot pigeons& crows among 14 other types of birds.
On 01st January every year Natural England issue General Licences which allow us all to shoot those birds.
After a legal review of the wording of these licences which have been issued in the same way since the 1990’s they decided with only two days warning to withdraw the licences which has caused chaos for everyone involved in countryside management. Everyone involved is working hard to get Natural England to act quickly but this is a government organisation and we all know what they are like! Ideally some worthless little jobsworth will get the sack for such a debacle but we doubt it.
We should know by the end of this week how and when they will re-issue the licences but at present that’s all we can tell. Applying for individual licences isn’t an option and in any event they are unlikely to be granted…see the kerfuffle over bird of prey licences! Since Thursday we’ve had to send some foreign clients home without shooting and have taken others out deer stalking in lieu of pigeons & crows. It’s a commercial nightmare and costing us dear!
For the moment we cannot shoot any birds but hopefully over the next few weeks that will be resolved. We are still taking provisional, penciled in bookings for our days in July, August & September but not yet invoicing for them in the hope that things will get resolved. Time will tell.
Back in March the Environment Secretary Michael Gove appointed Tony Juniper CBE as the new Chair of Natural England. It is our understanding that the new appointee is against shooting and that Natural England are excusing this revocation in response to a Judicial Review sought by Messrs. Chris Packham and Mark Avery. Any collusion is purely speculation on our part! However if you thought their activities were only confined to grouse shooting think again! ‘Live quarry’ shooting in all its aspects is under threat like never before.
As of Friday 03rd May it has been announced that DEFRA will be taking over the issuing of General Licences. They have asked for interested parties to provide evidence about how this has impacted on the countryside. Everyone can have their say about how this revocation is affecting them by here on the GWCT website and you have until next Monday 13th May to do so.