Revocation of General Licences - Next Steps

As you will have seen from recent media coverage, with effect from 23:59 hours yesterday, the general licences (GL04/05/06) which covered controlling 16 species of birds (including several members of the crow family, Canada geese, some gulls, feral and wood pigeons) were revoked by Natural England, following a legal challenge by Wild Justice.    

Natural England will start issuing new licences as soon as possible based on priority need.  The new licences will cover the majority of circumstances previously covered by the revoked licences, to ensure landowners can continue to take necessary action to prevent serious damage and disease, to conserve wild birds, wild flora and fauna, or to protect public health and safety, whilst also taking into account the needs of wildlife.  If you are able to wait until the licence you need becomes available you can rely on this and need take no further action if you satisfied that it covers your circumstances.

However, anyone needing to lawfully control wild birds under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 either before the new licences are issued or in circumstances which are not covered by the new licences, will need to apply for an individual licence via the online application system.  If you experience any difficulties opening the links to the application forms, you will need to right-click on the link and select ‘Save target as’ or ‘Save link as’ to download a copy to your computer.  

Once completed, the application form should be e-mailed to

If you need to take urgent action, which would previously have been permitted under General Licences GL04, before you receive a new licence, then you may not commit an offence provided that you:

  • able to show that your action is necessary for the purpose of (i) preserving public health or public safety or air safety; (ii) preventing the spread of disease; or (iii) preventing serious damage to livestock, foodstuffs, crops, vegetables, fruit, growing timber, fisheries or inland waters. You must also be able to show that there was no other satisfactory solution available for preventing such serious damage.

  • have submitted the relevant application for a licence for the relevant purpose above and notified Natural England.

Where you need to take urgent action to prevent serious damage to crops and livestock Natural England must be notified as soon as reasonably practical after you have taken the action. This can be done by sending an email to  Each notification must detail the name and address of the user, along with the number and species of relevant wild birds that have been subject to lethal control. 

Natural England have issued the position statement below setting out further information regarding the options for anyone needing to control wild birds during this transition period, the indicative timetables for the introduction of new licences and Frequently Asked Questions.  

If you have any queries or require any further information, please contact Natural England's general enquiry line on 0300 060 3900 or e-mail

If you encounter any difficulties with your application, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me as I am happy to raise any technical issues or problems with Natural England on your behalf. 

NE General Licences Position Statement - Pg 1

NE General Licences Position Statement - Pg 2


NE General Licences Position Statement - Pg 3

NE General Licences Position Statement - Pg 4

NE General Licences Position Statement - Pg 5

NE General Licences Position Statement - Pg 6