Natural England is authorised to discharge certain Defra wildlife management functions.
This authority is given by a Part 8 Agreement under section 78 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 [1.1 MB]: (1.1mb). How Natural England carries out these functions is detailed in the 'Agreement on Natural England's discharge of Wildlife Management Functions': (24kb) .
Natural England is responsible for licensing in the terrestrial environment in England (this applies to all activities undertaken landward of the mean low water mark) while the Marine Management Organisation is responsible for licensing in the marine environment (this applies to all activities undertaken seaward of the mean low water mark).
Natural England's Wildlife Management and Licensing issues licences (which are legal derogations) to permit actions against protected species that would otherwise be illegal. We issue licences under:
Licences are only issued for specified purposes which are set down in the legislation (e.g. protecting public health & safety, preventing damage to property, etc.), and only if certain specific criteria are met. There are five general principles applied to all licensing. These are:
Note: Natural England aspires to these principles for all licensing, but some legislation or a specific policy objective may influence application of one or more principles.
The provision of licences is well established in international law and is enshrined in the European Directives on biodiversity upon which UK law is based (i.e. the Birds Directive, Habitats Directive and the Bern Convention). In exercising its statutory duties as a licensing authority, Natural England seeks to minimise the impact on the species and individual animals concerned. However, it is accepted that in some cases conflicts exist between wildlife and people that can only be satisfactorily resolved by disturbing or killing wildlife. Similarly, important research that contributes to the scientific knowledge and conservation of wildlife sometimes involves disturbance.
The licensing regime operated by Natural England ensures that the conservation status of all species subject to licensing is not adversely impacted by activities carried out under our licences.
All applications for licences are judged on their individual merits. Many licence applications are assessed by a Wildlife Management Adviser, with site visits where necessary, before a decision on a licence is made. All Advisers are well-qualified wildlife biologists, the majority of whom have many years' experience of dealing with wildlife licensing. The Adviser will discuss the options with the applicant and determine whether a licence is justified.