After weeks of turmoil over the withdrawl of the general licences, Defra issues new ones that at least look workable

A new set of general licences has been issued by DEFRA, following the outcry over their revocation by Natural England after pressure from campaign group Wild Justice. The new licences have been welcomed by shooting and countryside organisations but problems remain over shooting on protected sites.

The move marks a return to the previous three licence structure. The new WML GL34 licences control of carrion crow, jackdaw, jay, magpie, rook, Canada goose, Egyptian goose, monk parakeet, ring-necked parakeet, sacred ibis and Indian house-crow to protect wild birds and flora or fauna. The new WML GL35 licences control carrion crow, jackdaw, magpie, feral pigeon, rook, Canada goose and monk parakeet to preserve public health or public safety. Control of carrion crow, jackdaw, magpie, feral pigeon, rook, woodpigeon, Canada goose, Egyptian goose, monk parakeet and ring-necked parakeet to prevent serious damage is licensed by the new WML GL36.

All species previously licensed have been relicensed with the exception of lesser black backed gull which has been removed because of conservation concerns. The new licences do not allow shooting within 300m of protected European sites including special areas of conservation, special protection areas and Ramsar sites.

pigeon damage

The new WML GL36 licence issued by Defra allows pigeons to be shot

They also do not allow shooting on sites of special scientific interest, which still requires authorisation from Natural England

The new licences, which came into force at 12.01am on the 14 June, will sit alongside those issued by Natural England. Defra said: “Whichever licence a user chooses to rely on, they will need to ensure they comply with the conditions and requirements of that licence. “

The new licenses were cautiously welcomed by shooting and countryside organisation. Liam Bell, National Gamekeepers Organisation chairman, said: “Two cheers to Defra for sorting out most of the mess left after NE’s licence revocations. We reserve our third cheer until it has also addressed the remaining issues in protected sites. The teamwork between the shooting organisations has been great on this and a big reason for the turnarounds gained so far.”