Defra is currently not in a position to issue new general licences for the shooting and trapping of pest birds in England when they expire in February, BASC has made clear in a letter to Secretary of State Theresa Villiers.

Farmers, conservationists and pest controllers are growing increasingly concerned that Defra will not be able to issue new licences. In the letter, BASC recommends an extension to ensure clarity and time to issue general licences that will be fit for purpose and future-proofed.

Caroline Bedell, BASC’s executive director of conservation, said: “With the sheer quantity of evidence submitted to Defra throughout their consultation, it has become clear that they will struggle to issue new general licences by the end of February. They need to seriously consider extending the licences now to avoid the same mistakes as last year.

“With the start of the breeding season for a wide range of vulnerable birds approaching, the general licences are of vital importance.

“We cannot allow the same confusion and concern as last year when BASC dealt with over 10,000 member enquiries.

“We have called for an end to this uncertainty with the implementation of licences that are both fit for purpose and future proofed and, if that takes another year, then so be it for the sake of our countryside and the people who live and work in it.”

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