Defra has launched a three-week consultation to determine details of the new interim licensing regime ahead of the 2021 release of gamebirds on and around protected sites in England.
The consultation will seek views on the introduction of a general licence for gamebird releases on Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs) and within a 500m buffer zone to minimise the negative impact this activity can have on these protected sites. The consultation sets out the proposed gamebird general licence scope and conditions and seeks views on their efficacy and practicality. The consultation also provides the opportunity to share any alternative measures which could be effectively put in place ahead of the 2021 shooting season.
The proposed interim licensing regime has been developed in response to a Defra commissioned review which considered the impacts of the release of the Common Pheasant and Red-Legged Partridge on and around SACs and SPAs and whether these could be managed better given the legal need to protect these sites from significant harm.
Environment Secretary, George Eustice, said: “We are committed to developing an interim licensing regime which is effective, practical and proportionate for users, while providing the necessary protections for habitats.
“The findings of this consultation will help us shape the interim gamebird release licensing regime and inform our longer-term direction of travel. We urge any relevant parties or local authorities to share their views.”
The deadline for responses is 15 March 2021, respondents can submit their consultation response using the online survey provided on Citizen Space.