SCOTTISH NATURAL Heritage's consultation about the future of the General Licence for wild bird control has ended, having garnered over 700 responses.

SNH will now consider this feedback, along with other evidence, and any changes to the current set of licences will be announced later this year, and thereafter apply to all 2020 licences.

The consultation covered circumstances when wild birds can be controlled under General Licence. All wild birds are protected by law, but in some circumstances, SNH issues licences for wild birds to be controlled; for example, to prevent serious damage to crops, protect public health, and ensure air safety when flocks of birds are liable to get in flight paths.

SNH’s head of wildlife management, Robbie Kernahan, said: “We’d like to thank everyone for their feedback. We’ll be looking at all these responses carefully over the next months to ensure that our licences are clear, proportionate and fit-for-purpose.

“Our role is to make sure that wild birds thrive, but we must balance this with making sure the public is safe from health and safety risks, as well as ensuring that farmers can protect their crops.”

General Licences cover relatively common situations – such as preventing agricultural damage and protecting public health and safety – when there’s unlikely to be any conservation impact on a species. They avoid the need for people to apply for individual licences for these specific situations. As such, General Licences must strike the appropriate balance between species conservation and a range of other legitimate interests.

Mr Kernahan added: “We would like to reassure those who are currently operating under the current 2019 General Licences in Scotland that these remain in place, allowing those who comply with the conditions to continue to use them.”