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29 March, 2017

SNH comments on legal decision on general licenses’ usage

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has welcomed a senior judge’s decision to uphold a decision by SNH to restrict the use of General Licences on land in the Scottish Borders where evidence of wildlife crimes had been found.

The decision had been challenged under Judicial Review by the affected landowners. However, at the Court of Session in Edinburgh Lord Armstrong threw out the case subject to a small change in the boundary of the restriction area to remove an area of low ground on Corsehope Farm.

General licences are a useful tool for land managers and the public. They permit the control of certain common bird species for a variety of reasons including conservation and preserving public health. They allow these activities to take place with minimal bureaucracy or additional requirements providing they are used in accordance with specified terms and conditions.

General Licences rely to a large degree on trust. The decision by SNH to implement this restriction in this case was carefully made and informed by clear evidence found by Police Scotland that wildlife crimes had been committed on the land.

Ian Ross, the SNH chairman, said: “We welcome the outcome of the Judicial Review. This was in effect a test case, and the result supports our decision.

“More widely this decision provides us with confidence that a light touch approach to regulation is not appropriate in situations in which there is evidence of wildlife crime having taken place, but no criminal convictions have been secured. Because of the remote locations where wildlife crime often takes place it can be difficult to find sufficient evidence to secure a criminal conviction. So we need every tool we can to help tackle wildlife crime in Scotland.”

Nick Halfhide, SNH’s director of operations, said: “Nature-based tourism is worth £1.4 billion a year to Scotland’s economy. Raptor persecution detracts from that value and diminishes Scotland’s appeal as a major wildlife tourism destination.

“We are committed to working strongly in partnership with Police Scotland, and other members of the Partnership for Action against Wildlife crime Scotland (PAWS) to stamp out wildlife crime in Scotland. This is a useful tool to help deter wildlife crime and we will now consider its use more widely.”

Contact information

Dominic Shann
Job Title
Media Relations Officer
01463 725157

Scottish Natural Heritage is Scotland's nature agency. We work to improve our natural environment in Scotland and inspire everyone to care more about it. We work to ensure that all nature in Scotland - our key habitats and landscapes, all our green space and our native species - is maintained, enhanced and brings us benefits. It is the job of all of us to achieve a balance in the sensitive management of our natural world in order to maintain and enhance biodiversity. For more information, visit our website at or follow us on Twitter at

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