BASC responds to general licence consultation

BASC’s response to the latest general licence consultation seeks to ensure the implementation of a system that is fit for purpose and future-proofed in England.

Defra says it wants the consultation, which ends on 5 December, to deliver a robust system of licensing to manage the issues that arise between the protection of wild birds and the legitimate reasons people need to control them.

Caroline Bedell, executive director of conservation at BASC, said: “As an organisation whose members use and rely on the general licence, BASC’s consultation response is definitive and explicit in our requests.

“A fit for purpose licensing system will see the whole process being easy to understand and light-touch. The decisions taken by Defra must be rooted in science and where that is missing, practical experience.

“Enough time and resources have been spent on unnecessary meddling within the licensing system. Now is the time for Defra to be progressive in its outlook and secure for the future this essential tool for controlling wild birds.”

Notes to Editors:
A summary of BASC’s response can be found below, the full response can be read here
1. BASC urges Defra to extend the current general licences for another 12 months due to insufficient time to consult, hold workshops and process changes and insufficient time to then communicate outcomes before the expiry of the current general licences on 29 February 2020.
2. BASC provided a significant volume of evidence in May this year. We have included a copy of that evidence with this consultation response. We have focused this response where Defra have indicated there was a lack of evidence.
3. BASC believes that all the proffered species should be placed on the relevant general licences.
4. BASC has provided evidence for the inclusion of ruddy duck, raven, Indian house crow and ring-necked parakeet on the relevant general licences.
5. BASC does not support compulsory bag recording because it will be costly and incomplete. 
6. BASC wishes to work with Defra to produce a habitat-specific general licence that can be generically applied to protected sites.
7. BASC strongly disagrees with the concept of buffers around protected sites because this is disproportionate.
8. BASC highlights the importance of lethal control as a magnifier of the impact of nonlethal options.
9. BASC highlights the need for year-round control to prevent damage at critical times of the year.
10. BASC urges Defra to sufficiently weigh the practitioner evidence gathered, especially where the peer reviewed evidence is weak.
11. BASC recommends a review and widening of the permitted methods of control to aid in the efficient and humane use of general licences.