Revealing more details of the 2019 Natural England licensing scandal (1)

Recap: Bob Berzins discovered that Natural England had issued what amounted to a general licence for conservation purposes after they had stopped issuing general licences for conservation purposes (sounds odd doesn’t it – see Bob’s guest blogs Natural England licences; a cover up? Part 1 and Natural England licences; a cover up? Part 2). And then I discovered that Bob’s discovery was one of 1156 such licences.

I also discovered that 600+ of those licences were issued in 12 working days of the general licences being withdrawn and that most licensees got licences to kill all five species of corvid: Carrion Crow, Jackdaw; Magpie, Jay and Rook.

Let us now pick up the story.

Both Bob Berzins and I asked for licence applications (and Bob, wisely it turns out) asked for licences too for a sample of locations. I asked for licences ending in a 7 (to give a random selection of licences of about one tenth of the 1156) and further limited my search to the counties listed above. Bob asked for licences issued in the Peak District area.

I’ve now looked at over 50 licence applications which ask to kill between one and five corvid species (amounting to 219 applications to kill a species) and all of them were approved. I haven’t found a single corvid species ticked on an application form for which approval wasn’t given to kill it.

In fact, I can go further than that, and say that so far, I have only spotted a single application to kill a species which was refused. My word, the quality of application must have been high for so many of them to get through – and so quickly too! We’ll come back to that later today.

Here is an example of someone who didn’t get everything he (for I’ll wager a pound to a penny it is a he) wanted.

So this chap asked to be able to shoot everything on the revoked general licence with the flimsiest and most general of justifications. The one mistake that he made was not to tick the box for Egyptian Goose, although he did tick all the subsections, and that meant that he got permission for all species except Egyptian Goose:

He must have been angry! I assume that this was notsomuch a decision of a Natural England licensing officer as much as an oversight. When I looked at his application form I thought ‘Why does this guy not want to be able to kill Egyptian Geese?’ until I noticed his error. But then, I’m not trying to get 60 licences a day out of the building to avoid the wrath of BASC, the Countryside Alliance, DEFRA ministers etc.

Just remember, these licences were issued after Natural England had admitted that their licensing system beforehand was unlawful. And instead we now know that they issued over 1000 licences, allegedly for conservation purposes, very rapidly. And we know that these licences were valid not for a specific location or area but for the whole of England (save designated sites). And we now know that it looks as if the only way you would be refused a licence for all the species for which you asked was to tick three boxes but not the fourth.

General licences in all but name and with no indication that there was any sifting of good or valid applications from bad ones.

More at 12:45 today.


10 Replies to “Revealing more details of the 2019 Natural England licensing scandal (1)”

  1. That’s a rather lengthy and interesting species list. Indian house crow does not exist in the UK, so having it down as a species to control (even though it is a non-native invasive elsewhere) due to non-existent impacts in the UK begs the question why not have crocodile (reason: impacts on fish) and wildebeest (reason: over-grazing on SSSIs) on the licensing list too, just in case we get some strong southerly winds?

  2. Confirmation, if it was needed, that Natural England is not fit for purpose and certainly not supportive of our wildlife. They are however showing yet again that they are great supporters of the shooters.

  3. Wow! I wonder why he didn’t also want to kill corvids on ‘other’ land – that seems like a dangerous loophole for the pesky varmints to sneak through and carry on decimating red squirells (sic) and wild birds!

    It would be interesting to know who processes these applications and what training they have received. Not much by the looks of things.

  4. Scandalous box ticking exercise by non- NE if the general licences were illegal so are these. also I would like to see the evidence that NE licencing is using to confirm that Rook, Jackdaw, Jay all have an impact on songbird and other wildlife numbers by egg and young bird consumption, because I believe there is none. The whole thing is a nonsense and it is why general licences and the application processes should be completely revamped.

  5. Mark (and Natural England staff if they are reading this),

    It is interesting that the licence to shoot the various birds is to preserve red squirrel in South Yorkshire. Interesting, as it is an extinct species in South Yorkshire (see the Yorkshire Naturalists’ Union website: and download the spreadsheet from the Checklist of Yorkshire Mammals. South Yorkshire is covered by vice-county 63 (South Yorkshire) and 61 (South-East Yorkshire).

    So it begs the question, which would be useful to ask NE, under what circumstances can a licence to lethally kill an extant species be issued to protect an extinct species? I’d be interested in their reply. May be a question to also ask Rebecca Pow?

  6. It says something about where NE’s loyalties lie when they seem to pull out all the stops to allow land owners to indiscriminately kill these species and drag their heels over dealing with wildlife crime. I for one am not surprised. I am more suprised at how blatent they are on the one hand and how secretive and furtive they are being on the other. Good to shed some light on their furtive fumblings. Oh er missus.

  7. The application form states “Please tick the box”. The box. Singular. Not “the boxes”.

    Form fill failure.

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