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Licensing news - see what is happening in licensing this month!

Bird licences - general licences

General licences permit 'authorised persons' to carry out actions that would otherwise be illegal. They cover certain types of activity relating to birds, such as preserving public health or air safety, and preventing the spread of disease. General licences cover situations that are regarded as relatively commonplace and where there is unlikely to be any great conservation impact.

General licences avoid the need for people to apply for individual licences for these specific circumstances.  General licences are still subject to strict conditions, and abuse of them or failure to comply with the conditions could constitute an offence.

Restrictions on the use of General Licences

Scottish Natural Heritage can prohibit the use of General Licences 1-3 by certain persons and/or on certain areas of land where we have reason to believe that wild birds have been taken or killed by such persons and/or on such land other than in accordance with this General licence.

Our framework for implementing restrictions  PDF document details how we will consider evidence and put restrictions in place. Current restrictions are listed below.

UPDATE: Parties affected by General Licence restriction 01/2015 have petitioned the Courts to seek a Judicial Review (JR) of our decision. The Court has yet to decide whether a JR will proceed but we expect a decision shortly. As an interim measure the Judge suspended the restriction until 10 June 2016. This date has now passed and the use of General Licences on this land is once more prohibited. We will update this page when any decision in relation to the Judicial Review has been made. In response to an application from Raeshaw Farms Limited, an individual licence to carry out some activities otherwise permitted under General Licence has been granted covering some of this land. This licence is subject to specific conditions and controls.

General licences for 2016

Below are our general licences for 2016 which are similar to those issued for 2015.  They are valid from 1 January 2016 to 31 December 2016.

General Licence 01/2016: To kill or take certain birds for the conservation of wild birds  PDF document  

General Licence 02/2016: To kill or take certain birds for the prevention of serious damage to livestock, foodstuffs for livestock, crops, vegetables and fruit  PDF document

General Licence 03/2016: To kill or take certain birds for the preservation of public health, public safety and preventing the spread of disease  PDF document  

General Licence 04/2016: To kill or take certain birds to protect air safety  PDF document

General Licence 05/2016: To capture red grouse to administer medication  PDF document

General Licence 06/2016: To keep disabled, wild-bred Schedule 4 birds for rehabilitation  PDF document

General Licence 07/2016: To keep disabled, wild-bred Schedule 4 birds for veterinary treatment  PDF document

General Licence 08/2016: To rear chicks from captive-bred Schedule 4 birds  PDF document

General Licence 09/2016: To permit the competitive showing of certain captive-bred live birds  PDF document

General Licence 10/2016: To keep certain captive-bred live birds in show cages for training purposes  PDF document

General Licence 11/2016: To sell certain live captive-bred species of wild bird  PDF document

General Licence 12/2016: To sell feathers and parts of certain dead birds which have been captive-bred or legally taken from the UK  PDF document

General Licence 13/2016: To sell certain dead birds which have been captive-bred or legally taken from the European Union  PDF document

General Licence 14/2016: To take unsuccessful eggs laid by wild birds from nest boxes  PDF document

General licence returns

Some general licences have a condition that states you must submit a licence return to us. Please send completed licence returns to licensing@snh.gov.uk in an appropriate format (table, spreadsheet, etc.) ensuring:

  • you include all the information required by the particular general licence you've operated under, and
  • always put 'General licence return' and the location details (e.g. airport) in the subject line of your email.

General licensing consultation

Crow cage trapping research results.  The research we commissioned about how crow cage traps are being used and how they can be used more effectively is now complete and will be published shortly.   We are holding a spring workshop with interested parties in order to disseminate the results of this research and consider implications for our general licences.

More generally, we are also re-considering the content of our other general licences during 2016. Discussion groups are being organised with key interest groups to explore and resolve outstanding issues of concern. The majority of our licences apply to particular species and there is a need to review these lists to keep them relevant and fit-for-purpose.

Further, to enable appropriate compliance with our licences we recognise a need to work with industry and others to ensure all those operating under them have sufficient awareness. We anticipate launching our 2017 licences with a complimentary awareness campaign involving the range of key partners involved in their application. We have already gathered and taken forward some ideas from industry on how we can progress a campaign and we will build upon these during 2016.

To complete the review process, we will formally consult over our  general licences for 2017 during this summer/autumn. We will encourage pro-active discussion early on during a 10-12 week consultation period. Our aim here is to ensure we have sufficient time to consider any additional comments or concerns raised with other interested parties during the consultation.

Orkney Greylag Goose Adaptive Management Pilot Project

As part of the Orkney Adaptive Management pilot project we are trialling the licensing of limited and controlled sale of goose carcasses and meat arising from the pilot. This includes licensing individual participants of the pilot and butchers to sell meat as well as a general licence for caterers in Orkney to be able to sell goose meat to customers. 

GL 15/2015 - General licence for caterers in Orkney to sell goose meat from the Orkney Adaptive Management Pilot.  PDF document

General licence for caterers in Orkney to sell goose meat from the Orkney Adaptive Management Pilot  PDF document

Uist Greylag Goose Adaptive Management Pilot Project

The Uist Adaptive Management pilot project is trialling the licensing of limited and controlled sale of goose carcasses and meat. Below is a link to a general licence permitting caterers in Uist and Barra to sell goose meat to customers.

GL 17/2015 - General licence for caterers in Uist and Barra to sell goose meat from the Uist Adaptive Management Pilot.  PDF document

General licence for caterers in Uist and Barra to sell goose meat from the Uist Adaptive Management Pilot.  PDF document

Lewis and Harris Greylag Goose Adaptive Management Pilot Project

The Lewis and Harris Adaptive Management Pilot Project is trialling the licensing of limited and controlled sale of goose carcasses and meat.  Below is a link to a general licence permitting caterers in Lewis and Harris to sell goose meat to customers.

GL 16/2015 - General licence for caterers in Lewis and Harris to sell goose meat from the Lewis and Harris Adaptive Management Pilot.  PDF document

General licence for caterers in Lewis and Harris to sell goose meat from the Lewis and Harris Adaptive Management Pilot  PDF document .