BASC responds to delay over Defra’s general licence announcement

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BASC is advising members that an announcement from Defra on the long-term future of general licences is unlikely to be made until late next week.

Defra has this evening told stakeholders it understands the urgency of implementing a “working system” of general licences “as quickly as possible” but wants its solution to be “legally robust”.

BASC and other leading rural organisations had expected a significant announcement ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend after environment secretary Michael Gove took control of general licences from Natural England and instigated a call for evidence, which BASC responded to.

Caroline Bedell, BASC’s executive director of conservation, said: “This is an incredibly frustrating delay for those who need a licensing system that is fit for purpose.

“While we accept that Defra has a vast amount of information to sift through following its recent call to evidence, the fact so many people responded to that demand for evidence should give a clear signal to Defra that people are desperate and need a workable solution in days not weeks.”

In an email to BASC this evening, Defra said: “We are developing proposals based on the 4,000 responses we received to our call for evidence and will set out our next steps shortly.”