NGO Responds to NE Wildlife Licensing Consultation
The NGO has responded formally to the Natural England consultation on the future funding of the wildlife licensing system, which is of crucial importance to many of those, including gamekeepers, who work alongside the fauna and flora of England.
The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation has responded formally to the Natural England consultation on the future funding of the wildlife licensing system, which NE manages on behalf of Defra. NE has proposed that the licensing service changes from being wholly taxpayer-funded to one where fees are charged for some licence applications.
Wildlife licensing is of crucial importance to many, including gamekeepers, who work alongside the fauna and flora of England. Licence applicants, therefore, quite rightly require NE to provide them with a swift and fair assessment service, which has not always been the case. The NGO in responding to the consultation welcomes the proposed shake-up in the funding mechanism for wildlife licensing if it helps NE to achieve consistent improvements in its performance. [Please note the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland operate their own, separate systems of wildlife licences.]
A spokesman for the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation said: “The acid test of this significant policy change by Natural England will be the provision of a better quality service, and we sincerely hope this happens. The consultation does not explain, however, how NE will ensure that the monies raised by charging for some licences will improve matters. Change is needed though, as the NGO has had reason to complain to NE about long delays in determining licence applications on behalf of our members on several occasions. NE has also acted unlawfully in respect of wildlife licensing in the past.”
In 2015, the NGO supported a gamekeeper from Northumberland in his successful legal battle to quash Natural England’s decision to refuse to issue him with a wildlife licence to control a small number of buzzards that were causing serious damage to young pheasants. The landmark legal victory came after judicial review at the High Court in London. At the time, the NGO said the court’s judgment had established that in order to be lawful, “wildlife licensing decisions must, in future, be made by NE fairly and on the facts, without NE exceeding its powers.”
To view the NE consultation in full click here.