NRW misses the point – or seeks to avoid it

We wrote to NRW’s Chair some time ago and did not receive an acknowledgement (although they say that one was sent). We have now received a response from Sir David Henshaw and another from a person called Customer Hub – as we expect that some of you will have done too. The response is copied below, in red.

NRW is foolishly or deliberately and foolishly missing the point of our enquiry. We are not asking them to change their general licence GL004 – we quite like it (as we have said before, many times). But the conditions that apply to the licence are not clear and the licence exists now, yesterday, today and tomorrow, and that is why we wrote to the general enquiries function at NRW asking some specific questions, such as:

  • in which of the remaining months of 2021 is it lawful to kill Magpie, Jay, Carrion Crow and Jackdaw under GL004 in Wales?
  • what non-lethal steps must be taken before lethal control is lawful?
  • what information would NRW like to receive of breaches of the licence conditions and how should these be reported?

These questions are not answered in what NRW have sent us, and so we will be going back to them to ask for answers to these questions about their current licences which allow killing of birds in Wales. If NRW cannot answer specific questions from the public on the conditions of their current general licences then they are not, in our view, properly fulfilling their duties as a regulator. If a member of the public asks specificially about the conditions of a current licence then NRW should be able to answer those questions. It would, of course, be a lot easier to put that clarification on the NRW website , but NRW has chosen not to do that.

NRW’s response in red and our thoughts on it in black:

Enquiry about NRW’s General Licences

Thank you for contacting NRW about our General Licences. 
No problem.
Our General Licences clearly set out the purpose and circumstances in which they may be relied upon. This was one of the grounds of challenge in a recent unsuccessful legal case. The judgement is clear the current general licences are not unlawful and there is no legal requirement for them to specify, any further than they already do, the circumstances in which they may lawfully be relied upon.  There may be no legal requirement but as a regulator you should be able to answer sensible questions about the conditions of the licence when asked by the public – you haven’t done that. You are maintaining a fog of confusion about when it is legal to kill birds under GL004 for the rest of 2021. Your general licences permit what would otherwise be a criminal offence and so their boundaries are important and it is perfectly reasonable for the public to ask for clarification.
We are currently undertaking a detailed and comprehensive review of our approach to all the permissions we give for shooting and trapping wild birds in Wales, this includes General Licences. We have committed that, as our licences are lawful and the review is underway, we will not be making any changes to our General Licences at this time. We haven’t asked for any changes – we have asked as a general enquiry, becauise the information is not ion your website, under what conditions we and others can go out and kill, say, Carrion Crows in Wales for the rest of 2021. This is a current issue, not a future issue.
The current General Licences are valid from 1 January 2021 until 31 December 2021.
Yes, we know that. But when is it lawful to kill Magpies, Carrion Cows, Jackdaws and Jays in Wales during this period – it’s a simple question and one which was covered in court. You miust be able to answer it. What’s the answer please? You have made no attempt to answer our questions about the non-lethal alternatives that must be tried before killing can lawfully be undertaken or about how we should report any apparent unlawful incidents.
The review will include a consultation later in the year, and we would encourage you to take part as it will shape our future approach to all the permissions we give for shooting and trapping wild birds in Wales. Further details about the consultation will be made available on our website and on our social media channels once available.
We’ll be happy to do that, thanks.

We are aware of the Newsletter from Wild Justice that suggested you contact us about our General Licences. We hope that our response provides you with additional clarity about our General Licences and the context of our ongoing review. We also wish to advise that we did acknowledge receipt of the original correspondence from Wild Justice and have responded to their letter to us in full.
You must be joking! You have avoided providing any clarity at all to direct and simple questions.

Customer Hub