Changes to Welsh general licences conditions have been labelled as irresponsible by BASC, as Natural Resources Wales prepares to roll them out on 7th October.
Following months of uncertainty and delays NRW have announced their proposals to stakeholders. The new look licences involve several major changes that users will need to be aware of.
First, several species have been removed from certain licences, with the rook and collared dove being removed completely off the licences. Second, the general licence for conservation purposes (GL004) will only be allowed to be used when protecting species of conservation concern, listed as either ‘red’ or ‘amber’. Finally, a buffer zone of 300m has been placed around certain designated sites, and 500m around the Dyfi estuary, where the general licence cannot be relied on.
These changes are intermediary, as NRW intend to complete a full licensing consultation in 2020.
BASC Wales director, Steve Griffiths, said: “The changes put forward by NRW are far-reaching and will affect all users of the licensing system. Anyone who requires the use of a general licence after 7th October will need to read and abide by the new conditions or risk breaking the law.
“The new licences are a far cry from the previous set, and BASC remains very concerned by the process NRW has followed, the lack of resources they have placed on educating users of the changes and their ability to act quickly with the potential increase in applications for individual licences.
“It is disappointing that having provided NRW with all the available evidence, they have still proposed such wide-ranging changes. Only allowing the conservation of ‘red’ and ‘amber’ listed species, is irresponsible and ill-advised, and is akin to waiting for the house to be on fire before acting. NRW’s proposals have the potential for a wide-range of unintended consequences and shooting organisations will be fully considering potential actions going forward.
“BASC continues to be fully engaged with NRW and will be working to ensure the set of licences introduced in 2020 are completely fit for action.
“If you need to control any species, such as rook and collared dove, for any reason that is not currently covered by the conditions of the new licences then you will need to apply for an individual licence. BASC will be allocating additional staff to deal with membership enquiries over the coming weeks and will be producing a full FAQ to accompany these changes.”