BASC welcomes significant improvement on GL43

BASC has welcomed the announcement by the Secretary of State for Defra of a new general licence (GL45) for the release of game birds (pheasant and red legged partridges) on or near certain Special Protection Areas (SPAs) in England.

After the chaos of last year’s announcement at short notice, BASC has achieved significant improvements to the licensing process by launching a legal challenge and by working closely with Defra through political engagement.

A substantial number of SPAs will be covered by a new general licence GL45 which will allow the release of gamebirds without the need for individual applications if the licence conditions are followed. Shoots in areas not covered by this new licence will again be required to apply for an individual licence.

This stands in stark contrast to the announcement last year when at exceptionally short notice, Defra announced that release of gamebirds on SPAs or within a 500-metre buffer zone would no longer be permitted under the existing general licence GL43 because of the perceived risk of transmission of highly pathogenic avian influenza from gamebirds to wild birds. Those who wished to release on these areas therefore had to apply for an individual licence at the eleventh hour through an untested and uncertain process.

BASC’s head of game and wildlife management Glynn Evans said:

“One of our key demands was that a general licence must be reinstated for SPAs and their buffer zone as soon as possible, to provide the sector with certainty for the coming season.

“After a long process of engagement with DEFRA, including mobilising our legal team to challenge their original decision, we are pleased they have listened to the evidence.

“For SPAs and associated buffer zones not covered by GL45 a new individual licence process has opened and I would urge anyone who needs to apply to do so early as possible. Any BASC members requiring help should contact their local English regional team who will support them through the process.”