Natural England (NE) has refused to grant further buzzard control licences to the gamekeeper who was granted a licence to destroy nests in the spring. The keeper had applied for a licence to kill 16 buzzards and three sparrowhawks between August and October on the four shoots he manages. According to the application, the nest destruction did not have a noticeable effect on the buzzard population or the damage caused by the raptors.

A spokesman for the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO) told Shooting Times: “The NGO’s persistent work in this area has moved matters on hugely. No longer is there any debate about whether or not raptor licences can be applied for and granted — they can be and have been. The recent buzzard licence refusals were disappointing, of course, but NE argues that their decisions were made fairly and on the facts. If they were, then so be it, we have only ever argued that due process must always be followed. But the problem here is that there is no independent right of appeal. If an applicant thinks he has been hard done by, he can only complain to NE — who will review their own decision. If, unsurprisingly, they uphold it, the applicant’s only option then is to go to court — a procedure likely to cost tens of thousands of pounds.

The rest of this article appears in the 2nd October issue of Shooting Times.

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