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Rural organisations call for wildlife licencing in England to be brought back into central government

2nd June 2020


Leading rural organisations have today  joined forces to call on the Environment Secretary, George Eustice, to bring the chaotic wildlife licensing system run by Natural England back into central Government where it can be fixed.

A new paper, ‘Wildlife Licensing in England: Chaos, Crisis and Cure’, written by the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, the Moorland Association and the Countryside Alliance, catalogues a litany of errors and delays by Natural England brought about by an unwieldly wildlife licensing system that must change to become more efficient, effective and cheaper.

Wildlife licences are required in a range of circumstances to enable land managers to undertake work to conserve species and habitats.

A spokesperson for the organisations, said: “Natural England has a statutory duty to provide a wildlife licensing system. A system designed both to protect livelihoods and some of our most precious wildlife. At the moment it’s unworkable for those who use it and those charged with running it. It’s broken and needs to be fixed. The Government needs to provide a system that works.

“Wildlife licenses are a cog in the wheel for much conservation management work that happens in the countryside. Land managers across England carry out an essential role by conserving and enhancing important wildlife sites that support iconic bird species such as curlew, merlin and redshank, and to help protect them for future generations. Although this work has been progressing well with Natural England staff on the ground, this is now all at risk with the licensing chaos.”

Wildlife Licensing in England: Chaos Crisis and Cure’, includes examples of flawed licences issued by Natural England, how Defra policy is interpreted incorrectly or ignored and details of delays to licences that have resulted in direct damage to some of England’s most precious wildlife sites and some of our fastest declining species. It explains why these problems result in chaos for land managers, making it impossible for them to manage wildlife practically and with the legal certainty they need.

The spokesperson, continued: “Collectively, our members are responsible for managing huge areas of the countryside, including some of our most precious habitats and wildlife sites. We need to be supported by the nation’s wildlife licensing system, not obstructed. We want to work with Defra on how this situation can be resolved and a roadmap for how changes will be implemented.

“Don’t let wildlife licensing continue to fail conservation and become the next victim of maladministration by a Defra funded body that creates insurmountable problems because they weren’t identified or acted upon early enough.”


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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