In 2021, an interim licensing requirement for the release of pheasants and red-legged partridges on or within 500 metres of European Protected Sites in England was introduced. A general licence – GL43 – was issued which permits the release of gamebirds within these areas (you do not need to apply for this licence but all of the conditions within it must be complied with).
Releases outside of these locations are not subject to the interim licensing regime.
Alongside GL43, Natural England introduced a Gamebird Advice Service for those who wished to apply for an individual licence in circumstances where GL43 is not applicable.
In preparation for the general licence to be reissued for a second year, at the end of May 2022, Natural England has announced some improvements to the individual licence process.
Natural England has confirmed that its Gamebird Advice Service will open by the end of March and run through until late Autumn, to ensure individuals have more time to use this service.
Natural England’s online advice is also being simplified, with customers being asked two simple questions from which they can learn if they can operate under a general licence and if so, how many birds they can release.
A release report form will include a drop-down list of European Protected Sites, reducing potential confusion over site names and speeding up the process.
In addition, those who operated under an individual licence in 2021 can, if still required, apply for a renewal for 2022, providing their planned releases are unchanged. Current individual licence holders from 2021 will be contacted individually and offered this option.
BASC continues to work proactively with Defra and Natural England in relation to the interim licensing regime including general licence and individual licensing provisions.
Members will be updated on developments and can contact us for further advice. Specific queries regarding Natural England’s Gamebird Advice Service can be directed to them at firstname.lastname@example.org..