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Farmers’ union condemns government for revoking bird control licences

Natural England’s threat of revoking three general bird control licences has angered Kentish farmers.

However, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has branded licences “absolutely necessary”.

Natural England has revoked three general licences to control wild birds as of Thursday 25 April 2019. These licences covered 16 species of birds including: several members of the crow family, Canada goose, some gulls and pigeons.

For more information about how to apply for the new licences, click here.

NFU Comment

Responding to Natural England’s decision to revoke three general licences for controlling certain wild birds, NFU Deputy President Guy Smith said:

“The NFU has significant concerns about the abrupt withdrawal of these general licences.

“They are absolutely necessary at this time of year when crops are particularly vulnerable to pests. For example, a flock of pigeons could decimate a farmer’s field of crops or lambs could be targeted by crows leaving severe injuries.

“As of 25 April, farmers will be required to apply to Natural England for individual licences. We understand that Natural England will be issuing new licences from next week and for the NFU it is a matter of priority that these licences are issued as soon as possible.”

“It is incredibly disappointing that farmers and growers find themselves in this position, particularly at this time of year.”

Alongside this, the NFU Kent regional communications officer, Isobel Bretherton confirmed Smith’s fears, saying that farmers would have less certainty on the quality of their crop and safety of their livestock.

She said: “It is absolutely vital that Kentish farmers have a means to legally control wild birds on their land. There have been cases of crows taking baby lambs and damage to crops.”