English general licence extension ‘relief’

BASC says Defra’s decision to extend the temporary general licences in England until the end of July gives a window of certainty to the rural community.

BASC will continue to work with Defra and parliamentarians in response to legal challenges to the general licence system.

But the UK’s largest shooting organisation says Defra’s extension of the licences, while it continues a review, allows the countryside to operate as normal at a crucial time of year.

The announcement follows lobbying by BASC to ensure the licensing process was not allowed to lapse as demanded by campaign group Wild Justice, and cause similar chaos as when they were revoked in April 2019.

Caroline Bedell, BASC’s executive director of conservation, said: “There is still much work to be done and BASC will not let up on this issue after previously stating our intention to be an ‘interested party’ in any legal challenge.

“But this decision by Defra is welcome news for BASC members and the wider general licence user community.

“It is a relief that as the clock neared midnight, Defra did not bow to the legal pressures and have allowed themselves additional time to make the right decision. It allows people to at least plan ahead for the next six months, at a crucial time of the year for our habitats and wildlife.

“Defra appreciates the importance of a light-touch regulatory licence and it is vital that the resources are available to ensure a fit for purpose and future-proofed system can be launched on 1 August 2020.”

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