The National Gamekeepers' Organisation (NGO) says the announcement by Natural England (NE), made today (16/09/14), following its General Licences Consultation, is "a victory for common sense and the countryside".
The NGO - which represents the gamekeepers of England and Wales - has welcomed the Board of NE's decision to implement fewer than a third of all the proposals on bird control that the Government's conservation advisor had circulated for public scrutiny in February. NE's move follows extensive lobbying by the NGO and its gamekeeper members, as well as other representative countryside organisations.
In deciding which proposals to take forward, NE has adopted most of the measures the NGO had argued for during the consultation process, with the conclusions the NE Board reached frequently mirroring the stance the NGO took in its detailed written submission. Licensing changes, which the NGO had called "sensible improvements", have been accepted by NE, while proposed amendments, the gamekeeping body had slammed as "ludicrous and impractical", are now dropped.
Charles Nodder, the NGO's Political Adviser, was delighted by the news: "Gamekeepers will be encouraged that at last an environmental quango has finally listened to the views of ordinary countrymen and women. This is a victory for common sense and the countryside. It is great that the voice, not only of the NGO but of its grass roots members too, has contributed to this evidence-based result."
He added: "Gone is the proposal to take jays, jackdaws and collared doves off the General Licence. Equally, it should now still be possible to continue to control the hooded crow in England. Also gone, is what would have been a completely unworkable requirement - the crazy idea to "shoo before you shoot " - which would have required individuals to implement non-lethal measures such as scaring before being able to shoot - or trap - pests like pigeons and magpies. What's more, an attempt by NE to give itself new powers to deny someone the right to operate under a licence on suspicion of wildlife crime but without a court verdict of guilt has been scrapped."
The NGO has, however, issued a cautionary note, warning that there was work still to be done as 20 of the original proposals have merely been deferred, pending further consideration of responses. Some would affect gamekeepers, including how decoy birds need to be kept and the licensing arrangements for controlling problem gulls.
The NGO has pledged to remain in close touch with NE over the deferred proposals as well as ensuring that the decisions of its Board are properly implemented when the annual licences are re-issued on 1 January 2015.
Notes to Editors
The National Gamekeepers' Organisation represents the gamekeepers of England and Wales. It defends and promotes gamekeeping, gamekeepers and ensures high standards throughout the profession. It was founded in 1997 by a group of gamekeepers who felt that their profession was threatened by public misunderstanding and poor representation. The NGO has more than 15,000 members. www.nationalgamekeepers.org.uk