The chair of Natural England, Tony Juniper, and Environment Secretary have exchanged letters over the weekend over General Licencing decision making powers.
The Environment Secretary has set out that he considers it appropriate to take over ultimate decision making powers for general licences, recognising the scale of interest and concern that has been generated by the decision to revoke and because of the intensity and urgency of the present situation.
Defra has initiated a formal evidence gathering exercise in order to capture information from all concerned parties about the impact that the recent withdrawal of the three general licences (GL04, GL05 & GL06) on 25 April has had on the ground. “In particular we want to gain a clear understanding of the implications for the protection of wild birds, and the impacts on crops, livestock, wildlife, disease, human health and safety and wider nature conservation efforts,” the department said in a statement.
The evidence gathered from that exercise, alongside the information that Defra and Natural England have already received since 25 April will inform decisions and approach to getting back to a satisfactory situation.
The closing date for providing views and evidence is Monday 13 May. The Secretary of State then intends to take a further week to consider the evidence gathered and make a decision.
A separate review of general licences will take place later in the year and there will be a further opportunity to submit evidence and views at that point.