Significant changes to Northern Ireland General Licences

A magpie

BASC is advising members that Northern Ireland’s Department of Environment, Agriculture and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has made significant changes to a new set of interim General Licences.

The licences introduced on 1 January 2023 will run through to the end of February 2023. The licences have been updated following a consultation and are only running for a couple of months as stakeholder engagement continues.

The main changes are as follows:

  • Herring gull, lesser black backed full, great black backed gull, starling and house sparrow have been removed from the general licences.
  • Licence TPG1 for the purpose of preserving public health or public safety applies to feral pigeon and jackdaw.
  • Licence TPG2 for the purpose of preventing the spread of disease and preventing serious damage to livestock, crops, etc, now applies to hooded crow, jackdaw, magpie, rook, feral pigeon and woodpigeon.
  • Licence TPG3 for the conservation of wild birds applies to hooded crow and magpie and is restricted to use in the breeding season between 1 March and 31 August.

There are additional conditions which must be observed prior to use on protected sites. Advisory material has also been added to the general licences.

Tommy Mayne, BASC Northern Ireland director, said: “First and foremost members need to make themselves aware of the changes prior to using them. During this interim period BASC will continue to engage with DAERA to ensure there is evidence to back up these changes and that the licences are easily understood and workable.

“The failure to permit the use of the General Licences on a Sunday is a missed opportunity by DAERA to assist farmers, gamekeepers and conservationists in maximising the benefits of the General Licences. BASC will continue to push for this change.

“BASC is advising members to contact DAERA and apply for an individual species-specific licence if the interim changes impact their work and livelihood. These next two months are essential for DAERA to get these licences right and working for Northern Ireland.”

The new set of interim General Licences for Northern Ireland can be found on the DAERA website here.