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Moorland Association says Gove intervention on general licences chaos a ‘bold step in the right direction’

4th May 2019

The Moorland Association today welcomed the intervention of Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, over the general licences fiasco that is endangering a range of threatened bird species.

Mr Gove has temporarily assumed power to grant licences and has agreed to undertake an urgent evidence review of the decision that led to Natural England revoking general licences on April 25.

Amanda Anderson, Director of the Moorland Association, said: “The intervention by Michael Gove is a bold step in the right direction but time is against everyone in this chaotic situation.

“With the current licensing confusion, every day that goes by, at the height of the ground nesting bird breeding season, is a disaster for conservation with eggs and chicks of already threatened species being killed and eaten. This fiasco is accelerating their extinction. The evidence for this is clear. Without protection populations will be more than halved in just one breeding season.

“Michael Gove has one chance to get this right but the clock is ticking. Clearly, the most sensible and rationale outcome would be for the Secretary of State to reach a conclusion – based on the evidence supplied to him in coming days – that the old general licence does work and should be reinstated quickly before refining the system in a more considered manner for 2020.

“Defra can and should carry out its own assessments of the need to control pest birds for valid reasons and the department must know that non-lethal methods rarely work or are impractical in open countryside, therefore they are not starting this review from scratch.”

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Did You Know?

75% of Europe’s remaining upland heather moorland is found in the UK – but this area declined alarmingly over the latter part of the last century. The Moorland Association was set up in 1986 to coordinate the efforts of moorland owners and managers to halt this loss, particularly in England and Wales.

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