General Licences - England
General Licences in England are currently issued by Defra. You do not need to apply to use a General Licence, but you are required by law to abide by their terms and conditions.
Below are links to the new General Licences that take effect on 1 January 2021:
- Valid from 1 January 2021 – GL40: General Licence to take or kill certain species of wild birds to conserve endangered wild birds, or flora and fauna.
- Valid from 1 January 2021 – GL41: General Licence to kill or take certain species of wild birds to preserve public health or public safety.
- Valid from 1 January 2021 – GL42: General Licence to kill or take certain species of wild birds to prevent serious damage.
- Valid from 1 January 2021 – GL33: trapping wild birds: standard licence conditions.
If you wish to control lesser black-backed gulls and herring gulls you require a specific licence. Natural England closed all applications in March 2020.
Guidance on completing the forms are available here:
- Guidance on completing licence applications to control lesser black-backed gull and herring gull
- Q&A licences for control of lesser black-backed gull and herring gull
What is BASC doing?
The publication of the new licences follows lobbying of ministers and MPs by BASC after the current system of licensing became subject to a legal challenge in the Spring of 2019.
The new General Licences are the result of an 18-month Defra led process, which BASC fed into, and a review of the scientific evidence.
What you need to know about the new licences
- Check the BASC website for regular updates
- All birds within the current licences remain in at least one or more of the new General Licences. It will be essential that users comply fully with the terms and conditions and that the licence is applicable to the circumstances within which they are shooting.
- The new General Licences allow for control on protected areas.
- If you need to control a species not listed on a General Licence or on an area excluded from it, you’ll need to apply for an individual licence and we recommend you apply at the earliest opportunity. Click here for Natural England’s individual licence forms.
For further information on England General Licences, please call: 01244 573 019
Click on the drop down FAQs below for more information
General Licences are issued by government agencies to provide a legal basis for people to carry out a range of activities relating to wildlife.
By definition you do not need to apply for General Licences but you are required by law to abide by their terms and conditions.
Defra’s General Licences allow preventative action to be taken so you do not need to wait until damage has occurred.
The general licences require that, before and alongside their use, reasonable endeavours are made to achieve the purpose in question using lawful methods not covered by the licences, unless such endeavours would be impractical, without effect or disproportionate in the circumstances.
Defra advises users to keep a record of problems and their use of other lawful methods, but you do not need to submit those records to Defra or Natural England.
Defra’s General Licences allow preventative action to be taken and there is no restriction on using decoys, shooting on stubbles, roost shooting etc.
Defra’s General Licences allow the use of Larsen traps and other cage traps to trap pest birds.
Defra General Licences GL34, GL35 and GL36 did not authorise the killing or taking of pest birds in European Protected Sites (Special Protection Areas, Special Areas of Conservation or Ramsar sites) or within 300m of these sites.
The new Defra General Licences (GL40, 41 and GL42) allow for the control on these sites from 1 January 2021.
For this situation you need to apply to Natural England for an individual licence using application form A08.
As per the previous General Licences that were revoked by Natural England, if you are carrying out bird pest control under a general licence on a SSSI, you also need Natural England consent.
Contact your local Natural England office if you do not have consent or are unsure.
You need to apply to Natural England for an individual licence using application form A08. These need to be completed by 15 March 2020 although applications after this date may be considered.
Further information is available:
If you have a specific need to control a species not listed on the relevant General Licence, you will need to apply for a specific individual licence from Natural England.