The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland (DAERA) has withdrawn its general licences and replaced them with interim licences while a public consultation is launched on proposed changes to the licences.

The public consultation was originally launched last July but was subsequently withdrawn due to a technical error, and the 2021/22 General Licences were re-issued without no changes from previous years. However, following a legal challenge in November 2021 from the group Wild Justice, DAERA has now withdrawn its three General Licences for the control of wild bird species (TPG1, TPG2 and TPG3), and issued temporary interim licences while the public consultation is carried out.

Several species have been removed from one or all of the licences. Those who make use of the Northern Ireland General Licences should immediately familiarise themselves with the interim licences:

  • TPG1 for the purpose of protecting any collection of wild birds and for the purpose of protecting public health and safety
  • TPG2 for the purpose of preventing the spread of disease and preventing serious damage to livestock, foodstuffs for livestock, crops, vegetables, fruit, growing timber and fisheries 
  • TPG3 for the purpose of conserving wild birds

BASC Northern Ireland director Tommy Mayne, said: “DAERA has always said that its general licences were under active consideration so the news comes as no surprise. BASC welcomes the news that a full public consultation will follow, and we will be responding to the consultation in due course.

“BASC urges anyone who relies on the GLs to control pest birds to respond to the consultation, as it is important that the farming and shooting community speaks with one voice. 

“In Northern Ireland, GLs do not apply on Sunday and BASC has campaigned for many years to have the licences amended to facilitate the control of pest birds on Sunday. In calling for that small change, BASC is supported by the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) and that change will be a priority for us going forward”.

It is essential that users of the general licence in Northern Ireland keep up to date with the latest news by visiting the BASC website or the Northern Ireland team Facebook page.