Changes to Scottish general licences provide certainty and direction, but the failure to act on ravens and the revocation of the licences on certain designated sites are cause for concern, says BASC.
The new licences, which will come into force on 1 April 2020, follow on from a Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) consultation and review.
The consultation prompted an in-depth and scientific response from BASC Scotland, based on more than 1,000 responses from BASC members and the wider community.
Changes to the terms and conditions include the removal of several species from specific licences, and the full removal from the general licence of both lesser and great black-backed gull species and collared doves. The management of feral greylag geese will be allowed throughout the year, reflecting their impact on agriculture. Those who require the ability to control species no longer on the relevant general licences will now need to apply for an individual licence.
Further changes see the general licences removed from several designated sites (Special Protection Areas and Special Areas of Conservation). In addition, the registration of trap users will now become the responsibility of SNH. This will be a simple transfer of registration from Police Scotland to SNH and is welcomed by BASC.
Dr Colin Shedden, BASC Scotland director, said: “It is of vital importance that users of the general licences in Scotland make themselves aware of the new terms and conditions.
“Positively, SNH has taken on board most points made by BASC and our members on which species to retain on the general licences, however the decision not to include the raven on GL2 (prevent damage to livestock) is unfortunate. BASC welcomes SNH’s statement that the individual licensing for raven will be improved.
“BASC is opposed to the revocation of general licences on certain designated sites, a list of which can be found here. We do not believe these changes are required and that this could over-burden the licensing process. We do not believe applying for permission in this instances is required and that this could over-burden the licensing process. We are meeting SNH next week and will seek to ensure that the process will be adequate and allow our members operating on protected sites to act as and when required .”