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Scottish Countryside Alliance calls on authorities to ensure fairness in General Licence regs

Scottish Natural Heritage agrees an Information Sharing Protocol (ISP) with Police Scotland in relation to crimes against wild birds.

Scottish Natural Heritage has announced that General Licences 1-3  “To kill or take certain birds” are now to include the following wording: SNH reserves the right to exclude the use of this General Licence by certain persons and/or on certain areas of land where we have reason to believe that wild birds have been taken or killed by such persons and/or on such land other than in accordance with this General Licence”.

 

While the wording provides for the exclusion of individuals, it is the intention that where SNH has robust evidence that wild birds have been killed or taken or where there is intention to do so other than in accordance with a licence, SNH will exclude the area of land on which such evidence is found from General Licences 1, 2 and/or 3. Individual restrictions will apply for a period of 3 years, but may be extended if evidence of further offences is obtained during this period. However, If an area of land is subject to a restriction on the use of a General Licence then it may be possible for persons working on that land to gain an individual licence to carry out activities that were previously permitted under General Licence. To do so they would need to apply for a licence directly to SNH licensing team.  Any licence application would be judged on a case-by-case basis and would have to include detailed justification for the application.

Scottish Countryside Alliance Director Jamie Stewart said: As an active member of the Partnership Against Wildlife Crime Scotland (PAWS) the SCA welcomes any initiative that can be used to maintain the low levels of wildlife crime in Scotland.  We are pleased to read that any decision to impose a restriction will only be based on robust evidence received from Police Scotland of an offence against wild birds under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 or where the terms of General Licences were not being complied with and that it comes with an inbuilt appeals procedure. It is important that those who manage domestic and wild animals are able to access the General Licence to limit losses without unnecessary or unwarranted restrictions.  The robust nature of the evidence based requirement to restrict any General Licence linked to an  appeals procedure  will ensure that this is the case but we are concerned in that robust evidence should logically lead to criminal prosecution as opposed to General Licence restrictions.    

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