Where Defra’s general licence for gamebird release will apply.

Defra’s review into gamebird releasing for England concluded on 30 October and they intend to only allow pheasants to be released within 500m of sites of European importance for nature if people abide by the terms and conditions of a general licence. This licence will be consulted on but will contain conditions that people will have to abide by or face possible prosecution. We expect the key requirement will be to follow the GWCT guidance on stocking density that is contained in the Code of Good Shooting Practice.

People have been asking us where these sites are to see if their shooting might be affected by this. The map below shows these sites. They are Special Protection Areas (SPA) which are for birds and Special Areas for Conservation (SAC) that cover habitats and animals. We’ve also included Ramsar sites which are internationally important for wetlands – they are all covered by SPAs and SACs and are also treated in the same way by Defra.

What you need to do is zoom to where your shoot is and see if any of the sites show up. If they do, then think where your release pens are and if they are within 500m of the site boundary then you will be required to comply with the general licence when finalised. You can expect it to be in place before releases will be undertaken for the 2021 shooting season.