Our letter to the Chair of Natural Resources Wales, Sir David Henshaw.

Dear Sir David

We are writing to you following Wild Justice’s challenge of NRW’s general licences and following subsequent discussions with NRW staff.

We write not to seek to change NRW’s policy but to ask you to improve your practice as a regulator and as the licensing authority for general licences. Our concerns are primarily with your GL004, the ‘conservation’ licence, but you might want to take these points on board for your other licences too.

The Court found that the NRW general licences are lawful but there were useful and important constraints on the use of those licences in time and place. We were pleased that in sworn evidence to the Court NRW staff made it clear that lawful use of GL004 for conservation purposes required its use to be limited to the bird breeding season and limited to areas where species of conservation concern are nesting.  The judge referred to these important constraints in his judgment. Wild Justice is happy with this clarification of the circumstances of lawful use of NRW’s licences.

You may remember, but your staff will be able to confirm, that the NRW position, which is shared by Wild Justice, and more importantly the judge, was not the position of BASC who argued that the law allows landscape scale culling of species on the general licences – we characterise this as ‘anywhere, anytime culling’.  The judgment, and NRW’s sworn evidence, makes it clear that is not the case.

That is the first part of important background to this letter: NRW, Wild Justice and the Court are agreed on the legal basis of GL004 (but an important part of the user community, shooters, was not).

Following the judgment we wrote to NRW on this matter, and had an online meeting eventually in late February. We asked that NRW clarified the conditions of lawful use of GL004 (about which NRW, Wild Justice and the Court are agreed) in order to make clear to any users of the licence the boundaries of lawful and unlawful behaviour. We simply asked that NRW posts words on its website to make these conditions clear.

Your staff have refused to do so.  This is very disappointing and strikes us as poor practice by a regulatory body and licensing authority.  NRW has refused to clarify the legal basis for its own licences – that’s quite astounding! That is why we are writing to you now as a matter of urgency.

We would ask you to do the following things please:

  1. copy this letter to your fellow Board members
  2. respond to this letter by Monday 29 March setting out what steps NRW will take to clarify the conditions of lawful use of its live, existing, general licences starting with GL004.

In the absence of any satisfactory response we will consider other means of publicising the legal position of your licences.

Wild Justice