A Natural England (NE) consultation into proposed changes to the General Licences, originally promised for the summer, will now take place in the “next few weeks” following pressure from the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO).

Natural England revealed this week that a public and stakeholder consultation will begin shortly, meanwhile the current General Licences that govern control of pest birds will be renewed on 1 January 2009 with no revisions being introduced to next year’s licences. Without revealing any of the proposed changes contained in the consultation, an NE spokesman said: “As part of our commitment to continuous regulatory review and improvement, we are planning a consultation on a number of proposals for changes to General Licences. We will renew the existing General Licences in January, but do not intend to implement changes in respect of matters covered in the consultation until after this date.”

Pro-shooting organisations have speculated that few changes will be made as a result of the consultation, but are frustrated NE has not kept to the agreed schedule. A spokesman for the NGO told ST that NE’s timetable has slipped badly during 2008: “Two weeks ago, we asked what had happened to the full consultation they had proposed for 2008 and pointed out that it was already too late for the proper 12-week consultation period to precede any changes.”

The rest of this article appears in 23 October issue of Shooting Times.

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