379-7997_IMG01Natural England has quietly shelved the proposed amendment to the general licence requiring pest controllers to demonstrate they have exhausted non-lethal methods of control before shooting.

The proposal, which became known as the “shoo before you shoot” clause, was labelled “daft” by shooters when it was first tabled in March. At the time, Natural England issued a statement saying: “There is no expectation that scaring measured must be taken each time or immediately before any shooting… The new wording has a similar expectation that the licensee will have considered reasonable and appropriate steps to resolve the problem, such as scaring and proofing.”

Now, Natural England has determined the outcome of its consultation on the changes. It said: “The case for change has not been sufficiently made. It is important that amendments to General Licences provide confidence, certainty and clarity, and the consultation has established that in some areas there is not a broad consensus that the suggested changes will provide that. In light of the detailed feedback received, the Board has therefore determined that these questions and proposals should not be adopted.”

Shooting organisations praised the decision. Countryside Alliance Executive Chairman Barney White-Spunner said: “The proposal that people should have to scare pigeons before shooting them was always complete nonsense, so we welcome the fact that Natural England has largely listened to the concerns and experience of those who manage the countryside. General Licences are there to enable necessary management and it is vital that Natural England continues to listen to those responsible for that management.”

And BASC chairman Alan Jarrett said: “The Natural England board has taken a broad common-sense view of the numerous suggested changes and we welcome their practical approach.

“I would like to thank BASC members who took the time to submit their own responses to Natural England during the consultation process. Natural England received more than 2,000 responses. It is very important that the voice of people who rely on the general licences from day to day is heard by those responsible for regulation.”


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