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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 are able to 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. Any decision to implement a restriction will be posted on this webpage.

General licences for 2015

Below are our General Licences for 2015.  There are no substantive changes to these licences.  We have made one minor amendment to the wording on General Licences 1 - 3 in relation to restrictions on their use, to bring the wording on these licences in to line with that of the framework for implementation of those restrictions.

We intend to hold further discussions with key stakeholders regarding outstanding concerns relating to General Licences during 2015. 

One of the key areas of work that has arisen from those discussions has been to examine how traps currently permitted for use under General Licences are used in practice in order to ensure that their use is efficient, effective and with minimal risks in terms of welfare and capture of non-target species. To this end we have commissioned work to look at trap use which began earlier this year and is scheduled for completion in late autumn 2015. We will post updates as to how this work is progressing on our website in due course.

General licences valid between 1 January and 31 December 2015

General Licence 01/2015: To kill or take certain birds for the conservation of wild birds  PDF document

General Licence 02/2015: 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 03/2015: To kill or take certain birds for the preservation of public health, public safety and preventing the spread of disease  PDF document

General Licence 04/2015: To kill or take certain birds to protect air safety  PDF document

General Licence 05/2015: To capture red grouse to administer medication  PDF document

General Licence 06/2015: To keep disabled, wild-bred Schedule 4 birds for rehabilitation  PDF document

General Licence 07/2015: To keep disabled, wild-bred Schedule 4 birds for veterinary treatment  PDF document  

General Licence 08/2015: To rear chicks from captive-bred Schedule 4 birds  PDF document

General Licence 09/2015: To permit the competitive showing of certain captive-bred live birds  PDF document

General Licence 10/2015: To keep ceretain captive-bred live birds in show cages for training purposes  PDF document

General Licence 11/2015: To keep certain captive-bred species of wild bird  PDF document

General Licence 12/2015: To sell feather and parts of certain dead birds which have been captive-bred or legally taken from the UK  PDF document

General Licence 13/2015: To sell certain dead birds which have been captive-bred or legally taken from the European Union  PDF document

General Licence 14/2015: To take unsuccessful eggs laid by wild birds from nest boxes  PDF document

Submitting 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.

Orkney Greylag Goose Adaptive Management Pilot

As part of the Orkney Adaptive Management pilot we are trialling (for one year) 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. 

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

Uist Greylag Goose Adaptive Management Pilot

The Uist Adaptive Management pilot 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.

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

General licences for 2014

General Licence 01/2014: To kill or take certain birds for the conservation of wild birds  PDF document

General Licence 02/2014: 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 03/2014: To kill or take certain birds for the preservation of public health, public safety and preventing the spread of disease  PDF document

General Licence 04/2014: To kill or take certain birds to protect air safety  PDF document

General Licence 05/2014: To capture red grouse to administer medication  PDF document

General Licence 06/2014: To keep disabled, wild-bred Schedule 4 birds for rehabilitation  PDF document

General Licence 07/2014: To keep disabled, wild-bred Schedule 4 birds for veterinary treatment  PDF document

General Licence 08/2014: To rear chicks from captive-bred Schedule 4 birds  PDF document

General Licence 09/2014: To permit the competitive showing of certain captive-bred live birds   PDF document

General Licence 10/2014: To keep certain captive-bred live birds in show cages for training purposes  PDF document

General Licence 11/2014: To sell certain captive-bred species of wild bird  PDF document

General Licence 12/2014: To sell feathers and parts of certain dead birds which have been captive-bred or legally taken from the UK  PDF document

General Licence 13/2014: To sell certain dead birds which have been captive-bred or legally taken from the European Union  PDF document

General Licence 14/2014: To take unsuccessful eggs laid by wild birds from nest boxes  PDF document