NRW consults on general licences in Wales

Yesterday, Natural Resources Wales launched a consultation on their general licences. The consultation is lengthy but that is because it is asking a wide range of sensible questions and seeking answers. We will review the consultation carefully and consult with others but Wild Justice welcomes the existence of this consultation. The consultation closes on 11 November, so there is plenty of time to think about the answers. We will provide advice to our supporters on points that it would be useful to make, on this blog but also through our free newsletter – subscribe here.

Wild Justice is not the only conservation organisation that has been seeking reform to these licences but we are the only one to have taken a legal challenge against them, and that challenge, and those we have taken against similar licences in England, have driven reform. Our legal challenge to NRW’s general licences (see here, here, here) made NRW clarify and consider its position in the face of legal scrutiny, and the outcome of our challenge feeds directly into some of the more helpful parts of this consultation.

Our subsequent letter to NRW on general licences and their duties as a regulator, coupled with enquiries from Wild Justice’s supporters have clearly had an impact on NRW’s position. Thank you for your support – you have made a difference already.

Wild Justice has always been concerned with the principle of wide-ranging general licences and with the details of their application. Our main concern has been the badly operated so-called ‘conservation’ licences but we shall be carefully scrutinising NRW’s proposals for all their general licences. NRW’s ‘conservation’ licence GL004 does not reflect the current state of knowledge of impacts of predation by corvids and do not reflect the actions of conservation organisations in Wales or eleswhere in the UK. So we are pleased to see that NRW is consulting on:

  • removing Jackdaw, Jay and Magpie from their ‘conservation’ licence – we called for this to happen
  • the value of their Red/Amber list approach – we think this should be greatly improved
  • the very necessity of general licences (which they call a light-touch approach – we would call them a heavy-handed approach) when the alternative of specific licences is available – we made this pont strongly in our legal challenge
  • the temporal restrictions that should apply to any such killing if they are designed to protect eggs and chicks of specific species – we made this point in our legal challenge

It’s one thing to consult on these matters, but it’s another thing entirely to act. We welcome the consultation and we hope that NRW will act – we think they will on some of these measures. But there is more likely to be action if NRW receives many responses to its consultation. We will provide advice to our supporters on points that it would be useful to make, on this blog but also through our free newsletter – subscribe here.

We’d like to thank Wild Justice’s supporters for their help in getting this promising-looking consultation to happen. You funded our legal challenge that has been influential in framing the issues and you wrote in your hundreds to NRW asking them to act. You are a part of this growing climate of reform.