“There are potentially a number of unintended consequences to Natural England’s decision. It was a clearly a decision that was rushed through without consultation with the experts.
“We are also aware, for example, that pest controllers at airports are granted firearm licence by the police on the basis that they are using them to control birds under the terms of the general licence. Without the appropriate general licence, there is a fear they will not be able to do their jobs and that may affect safety.
“This decision by NE directly affects public health, safety and livelihoods.”
Richard Benyon, the Conservative MP for Newbury said: “This is crazy. There is a crisis of species decline and you are welcoming something that will make it harder for some of our rarest species to fledge chicks this year.”
Environmentalists have,however, welcomed the license change. Chris Corrigan, the RSPB’s director for England said: “This is a positive step in the right direction. We need an open and transparent system of licencing that everyone can be confident in, and is being used appropriately. It is important that licences are only issued when there is no other option, and when non-lethal alternatives have been exhsted. Any new system that Natural England now develops should be based on this principle.”