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Licensing news

New approach to licensing non-native species used as biological control agents for crop pests and diseases - March 2017

SNH have changed the way we licence the release of non-native species for use as biological control agents for crops pests and diseases.

The law in Scotland prohibits the release of any animal outwith its native range. This is because of the great damage that non-native species can cause to native plants and animals. Biological control agents for crop pests and diseases often contain animals (such as nematodes, mites or bugs) not normally found in Scotland and their use, even in glasshouses, could inadvertently constitute a 'release' and therefore an offence unless covered by a licence - and therefore the users of such products need to ensure they stay within the law.

Users can make sure they stay within the law by using an "approved product" listed in Annex 1 of General Licence GL/NNS  PDF document . Approved products have been assessed to ensure that they pose no significant threat to native species and the environment. There is no requirement on the user to apply to use an approved products, or to report on their use. However, producers wishing supply products for use in the control of crop pests and diseases which would eventually lead to the release of non-native species in Scotland will need to apply for their product to be registered on Annex 1 of GL/NNS by completing an application form  Word document .

Please see our non-native species licensing pages for further information.

Issues with nesting birds - March 2017

As the bird breeding season enters full swing a number of problems can arise from birds nesting in inconvenient places.

We have created a short document highlighting some of the issues that can occur and how these may be avoided or dealt with  PDF document . There's also some useful links in there for bird identification, how to apply for licences, and how to find independent pest control companies.

Attention all falconers - schedule 4 hatchling reminder - March 2017

Don't forget to register any Schedule 4 birds you breed with the Animal & Plant Health Agency.  Our general licence 08/17  PDF document  gives you up to 20 days to get hatchlings ringed and registered.  If you can't meet this deadline you will need a licence from us to hold the chicks unringed, in which case send your name & address, together with details of the hatchlings (species & number of chicks) to

Geese and serious agricultural damage - February 2017

Large numbers of geese on agricultural land can sometimes cause significant damage to growing grass or crops. There are a number of things that you can do to try to prevent or minimise these impacts, see SASA guidance here: Managing Geese on Agricultural Land external site . However, where these methods are shown to be ineffective or impractical we may be able to licence the control of geese as an aid to other, non-lethal deterrents.

The close season for shooting greylag and pink-footed geese is from 1 February to 31 August.  Existing licence holders should contact Licensing Team on 01463 725364 if they are experiencing or anticipate further damage.  First time applicants need to complete an application form - see our Bird licensing pages for more information on how to apply.  Greylag geese are now included on General Licence 02/2017 for July and August only - an individual licence is not required if you wish to shoot resident greylag geese during these months for preventing serious agricultural damage.  Don't forget - where Canada geese are causing serious agricultural damage, control can be undertaken at any time under this year's General Licence 02/2017 - see General Licences. If other geese species are causing a problem, please contact us for advice.

General Licences - new licences for 2017 and return reminder for some of our 2016 licences - January 2017

Following on from our general licence consultation last year we have published our new General Licences for 2017. There have been several key changes to the General Licences including; the addition of resident greylag geese on General Licence 2 (which allows the killing or taking of certain birds to prevent serious damage) and, the use of meat baits, once registered to do so, in Larsen mate and pod traps (relevant to General Licences 1-3). More information on these changes, the results of the consultation and the actions we have taken/will take forward can be found on the consultation page.

REMINDER If you are a General Licence user then we would also like to remind you that return information for GL 03/2016, GL 04/2016, GL 12/2016 and, GL 13/2016 is required by the end of this month.

Where is my licence? - tips for a faster turnaround time - November 2016

The current average turnaround time for licence applications is 13.12 days (average for August-October 2016 inclusive). Whilst this figure varies depending on the type of application, one of the most common reasons this turnaround time is not met is due to the submission of incomplete licence application forms.

We recently recently updated our suite of licence application forms to ensure the information requested is concise and draws out the key information required for the licensing team to be able to assess an application. However, we still receive incomplete application forms and/or applications that defer to the attached supporting documents. This typically incurs delays because the licensing team then need to contact the applicant to request this detail.

Therefore, to maximise the chances of your licence being issued on time, please ensure you have fully completed the application form with as much detail as possible and by not deferring to the supporting documents, and that you have included all the required documentation with your application.

For current turnaround times please see licensing statistics.

Survey licence returns reminder - October 2016

Survey licences cover a broad range of species and allow people to carry out activities that would otherwise be illegal.  Our aim is to have all survey licenced periods end at a time that will enable us to best cope with demand for renewals during the quieter parts of the year for applications.

With this in mind we would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone with a survey licence to ensure they fill out a licence return  for the works undertaken in the 2016 season as many of our survey licences state we expect annual returns.

Without correct return information we will not amend or renew a licence so it is important that survey licence holders think about their returns as early as possible to avoid delays.

Busy periods and licence turnaround times - September 2016

From analysing trends in licence demand over previous years we know we are now approaching one of the busiest periods of the year for the Licensing Team. During this time it can take substantially longer to turnaround a licence than at other times of year. Our licensing statistics page provides an indication of current turnaround time only and this will go up.

For the best chance of a licence being issued in time for your required start date we would recommend you submit the licence application well in advance of this start date, ideally as soon as the necessary information has been collected and reports written. For instance, badger licence applications for work occurring after the breeding season, July 1st, can be submitted at any time of year.

Please be aware, many applications we receive are requested as urgent and whilst every effort is made by the Licencing Team to prioritise work it is often not possible to give priority to these over others that have been submitted earlier.

General licensing consultation - September 2016

General Licences allow people to carry out activities that would otherwise be illegal without the need to apply for an individual licence.  They cover certain commonplace situations relating to birds that are unlikely to cause any great conservation impact.

Our General Licences should be enabling, clear, proportionate, flexible and legally compliant. To ensure this, we have launched a public consultation for our 2017 General Licences.  We are seeking views on how our General Licences work, what they cover and how they are worded.  The deadline for submissions is 10th October 2016.

Further, we've published some research on crow cage trapping to help inform development of some of our general licences.

Contacting the licensing team

Licensing team receive a number of repeat queries and so to help you we have developed answers to frequently asked licensing queries

If you still have a query speak to a licensing team member on 01463 725 364 or email

If you have a query concerning bats in domestic property phone our Bats in Houses helpline on 01463 725 165 or email

Last updated on Monday 13th March 2017 at 12:07 PM. Click here to comment on this page