There are serious delays in Natural England issuing development (“European”) licences for bats and great crested newts and their normal 30-day turnaround is being missed by upto 3 weeks. Natural England has stated that this follows “the recent introduction of our new IT system”, but this issue appears to be continuous since at least March 2014, and appears to also be anecdotally linked to the number of trained staff available, and has not yet shown signs of improving.
The delays in the processing of Wildlife Licence applications, apply both to acknowledging receipt and the issuing of decisions (see update below for the four week period 24th November to 19th December 2014), and is worst for bats.
Natural England staff are apologetic for this delay, and we have spoken to advisors who have been distressed by the situation. Their office will be closed from 4pm 24th December 2014 until 2nd January 2015, which will mean another 5 days delay to any licences outstanding at Christmas. Area managers have been helpful in advising about delays.
We suggest that any clients requiring licencing in the next few months, engage us as soon as possible so that we can advise.
Great Crested Newts Update (as at 22nd December 2014 )
- 19 ‘New’ Applications outstanding.
- ‘New’ Application processing time : Average delay of 7 days [37 days versus 30 working day decision deadline ]
Bat Update (as at 22nd December 2014)
- 279 ‘New’ Applications outstanding.
- ‘New’ Application processing time : Average delay of 17 days [47 days versus 30 working day decision deadline ]
Robins have breathed a sigh of relief that new Natural England licencing proposals will not allow a fast track to their extermination should they cause a problem in supermarkets and garden centres over the Christmas period.
Earlier this year, Natural England consulted the public on a controversial proposal as to whether robin, pied wagtail and starling should be added to a “General Licence”, which anyone could use without registering, to enable “quick action” where the birds caused genuine health and safety problems. However : “The Board determined that question 2b) should not be pursued further”
Instead a seperate class licence [ CL03 ], which will require prior registration, will allow for their trapping and removal from food premises, and where they threaten air craft safety [ CL12 ].
Natural England will also be issuing a new Class Licence for barn owl surveys where development is involved.
Other General and Class Licences, including GL04 “To kill or take certain wild birds to prevent serious damage or disease” [ which deals with pigeons, rooks etc ], will have minor wording updates for consistency in phrasing and better readability, so may differ in look from last year. They are available from 1 January 2015 and more information is available : General Licences with changes . Grey squirrel remain illegal to release back into the wild if caught.
There are in general, no changes to the conditions attached to licences. However I note that rather bizarrely though that if you accidentally capture any Capercaillie, Common crane or White-tailed eagle whilst attempting to remove the robin from the frozen food section, these “must be released immediately upon discovery”. I should say so – walk away from any such tussle.