13th May


TFA Media Release MR19/18: Wild Justice Attack on General Licenses – a Victory of Process Over Outcome

The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) has welcomed the intervention of DEFRA Secretary of State, Michael Gove, following the shambolic way in which Natural England has handled the response to the legal challenge from the campaign group Wild Justice against the use of General Licences to control pest species of wild birds.

The unnecessary chaos that has arisen from the ill planned action taken by Natural England has struck another blow to the confidence of the agriculture sector in the public body. Natural England has already been under fire for its poor administration of centrepiece agri-environment schemes with long delays to scheduled payments and setting up new agreements.

TFA Farm Policy Adviser, Lynette Steel, said “We understand from Natural England that it felt it had no other choice than to respond to the legal action by revoking the long-standing General Licences. However, the knee jerk way it responded, coupled with its poor communication to the industry, has further knocked our confidence in Natural England’s ability to deliver on its sole aim of helping to protect the country’s nature and landscapes”.

“This is not a matter of recreational shooting but one of protecting food crops, animal welfare, public health & safety and conserving an array of other species under threat from predatory birds, the numbers of which do not appear to be in decline. There is no conservation crisis with the birds covered by general licenses, but the revocation of those licences will cause conservation issues for other species. This is a pyrrhic win for the legal action by Wild Justice and the decisions taken by Natural England in response are a victory for process over outcome,” said Lynette.

“DEFRA’s urgent call for evidence from farmers is welcomed and we have been urging our members to engage with this process. However, it has come at what is an enormously busy time of year with applications for the Basic Payment Scheme and Stewardship claims all coming together this week. Farmers are feeling, once again, that DEFRA lacks a proper understanding of the sector,” said Lynette.

“It is vital that DEFRA takes the time to ensure all new licences are issued in a proper and timely manner. DEFRA must ensure users of these licenses understand clearly their position, without prohibiting their use, for the benefit of conservation and food production”.


Date: 13 May 2019

Ref: MR19/18

Notes for Editors:
For further information contact Lynette Steel on 0118 930 6130 or TFA Communications and Events Coordinator Julia Meadows on 07887 777157.

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