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09 September, 2019

Still time to respond to SNH's General Licence consultation

Still time to respond to SNH's General Licence consultation: Lesser black-backed gull-copyright Lorne Gill-SNH

There’s still time to respond to the Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) consultation about wild birds, with a deadline of 9 October.

The consultation covers circumstances when wild birds can be controlled under General Licence. All wild birds are protected by law. But in some circumstances, SNH allows wild birds to be controlled – for example, to prevent serious damage to crops, protect public health, and ensure air safety when flocks of birds are liable to get in flight paths. 

SNH is also publishing a report today to help identify which bird species should feature on General Licences, based on a literature review of species distribution over the past 25 years. The evidence from this research work will be examined, along with responses from the consultation, to help develop general licences for 2020, to ensure there is sufficient justification for each of the species listed on each licence.

Robbie Kernahan, SNH’s Head of Wildlife Management, said:

“This report will help those responding to our consultation, and also help us in our determinations once the consultation is over.

“Our role is to help wild birds thrive, but we must balance this with making sure the public is safe from health and safety risks, as well as ensuring that farmers can protect their crops. We want to ensure that our licences are clear, proportionate and fit-for-purpose.

“The consultation, along with our ongoing work such as the report published today, will provide us with valuable feedback. This will allow us to consider if we need to make changes to the current set of licenses for 2020.”

General Licences cover relatively common situations – such as preventing agricultural damage and protecting public health and safety – when there’s unlikely to be any conservation impact on a species. They avoid the need for people to apply for individual licences for these specific situations. General Licences must strike the appropriate balance between species conservation and a range of other legitimate interests.

SNH is looking for feedback specifically on the three most commonly used General Licences: those covering conserving wild birds, preventing damage to agricultural interests, and protecting public health and safety.

Robbie added:

“We would like to reassure those who are currently operating under the current 2019 General Licences in Scotland that these remain in place, allowing those who comply with the conditions to continue to use them.”

The consultation documents are available at

See the report Examining evidence-base for species listed on General Licences.



Contact the SNH main press office on 0131 316 2655 or .

Contact information

SNH Media

Notes to editors

General Licences don’t require operators to contact SNH before using them and most don’t require return information to be submitted on their use. They represent a streamlined approach to licensing for relatively common situations where the conservation risk to target birds is low. There are conditions attached to General Licences and failure to comply with their terms and conditions can result in an offence.

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

'S e Dualchas Nàdair na h-Alba buidheann nàdair na h-Alba. Tha sinn ag obair airson ar n-àrainneachd nàdarra ann an Alba a thoirt am feabhas agus a h-uile duine a bhrosnachadh gus barrachd cùraim a ghabhail dhi. Gus am bi an nàdar air fad ann an Alba – ar prìomh àrainnean is chruthan-tìre, ar n-àiteachan uaine gu lèir is ar gnèithean dùthchasach - air an gleidheadh, air an leasachadh 's a' toirt bhuannachdan dhuinn. 'S e an dleastanas a th' oirnn uile co-chothrom ann an stiùireadh faiceallach ar saoghail nàdarra a ruighinn airson bith-iomadachd a ghleidheadh 's a leasachadh. Airson an tuilleadh fios, tadhail air an làraich-lìn againn aig no lean air Twitter sinn aig


Lesser black-backed gull-copyright Lorne Gill-SNH

Lesser black-backed gull-copyright Lorne Gill-SNH

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