General Licence restrictions pose a threat to conservation

Press Release

Greater restrictions on the use of general licences - which allow certain birds to be controlled to prevent crop damage, predation of at-risk bird species and the protection of public health – could pose a threat to wildlife conservation efforts.

Following the announcement today of new restrictions on general licences by Scottish Natural Heritage, a joint statement was issued by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, Scottish Countryside Alliance, Scottish Gamekeepers Association, Scottish Association for Country Sports and Scottish Land & Estates.

The organisations said:

“The use of general licences has long been a vital tool to help preserve wildlife and precious habitats. While SNH has recognised that they are useful, legal methods, the land management sector is very disappointed that, yet again, we are being burdened with excessive and unnecessary regulation and red tape.

“We feel particularly let down over changes that will mean land managers having to apply specifically for prior approval from SNH’s licensing team to control certain birds on Special Protection Areas. The birds customarily controlled in these areas can be vast in number and any delay in approval being granted could well have a detrimental impact on protected at-risk species. This seems counter-productive.

“It is regrettable that SNH has taken this decision while it acknowledges there is no clear evidence that the use of general licenses have an adverse impact on Special Protected Areas.

“There has been insufficient engagement and communication with land managers who will have to implement these changes and our organisations are seeking urgent reassurance from SNH and Ministers that consents will be granted quickly and easily in the face of the likely impacts on Scottish biodiversity.”

The SNH announcement can be read here: https://www.nature.scot/renewed-general-licence-increases-protection-scotlands-wild-birds