Press Release: BASC meets with NI Agriculture Minister to discuss general licences

The UK’s largest shooting organisation, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) has met with the Minister for the Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), Edwin Poots, to highlight members’ concerns regarding the future of general licences in Northern Ireland.

The meeting had initially been requested by BASC after the department launched its public consultation on proposed changes to the general licences, the legal tool that permits the killing or taking of certain ‘pest’ bird species.

That consultation was subsequently and prematurely withdrawn by the department who then issued the licences unchanged.

Speaking after the online meeting, Tommy Mayne, director of Northern Ireland BASC, thanked Minister Poots for the opportunity to discuss general licences.

Mr Mayne said: “BASC was aware that the department had come under pressure to review and remove certain species from the general licences. Fortunately, that has not happened and BASC thanked the Minister and his officials for issuing the licences unchanged.

“The department has previously advised that the general licence process is under active consideration, so BASC stressed the need for any future consultation to be evidence-led, balanced and appreciate the requirements of those on the ground using the general licences.”

Currently, general licences in Northern Ireland do not apply on Sunday. BASC used the meeting to appeal directly to the Minister to amend the licences to permit farmers, or their authorised representatives, to kill or take pest birds on Sunday, where there is a legal requirement. In calling for this small change, BASC is supported by the Ulster Farmers’ Union.

In responding, the Minister said he recognised the damage that pest birds can cause and the need for them to be controlled on Sunday.

Mr Mayne continued: “Removing the Sunday restriction from the general licences, will ease the pressure on farmers, conservationists and pest controllers.

BASC also raised the issue of consultation responses being received from lobby groups and individuals living outside Northern Ireland, in respect of influencing either policy or legislative changes to the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985, as amended.

ENDS