Gove ‘may strip Natural England of bird kill licensing powers’

Environment secretary Michael Gove has ordered his officials to ‘urgently investigate’ options for controlling wild birds, DEFRA has confirmed, as reports suggested that the minister is considering stripping Natural England of its powers to issue bird kill licences.

The nature regulator has been at the centre of controversy since it revoked three general bird kill licences in a bid to avoid legal action from naturalist Chris Packham’s new outfit, Wild Justice, which claimed the licences to be unlawful.

The move has enraged many in the landowning, farming and shooting communities, who say they need the licences to protect crops and animals from some bird species.

READ MORE: 7 things you need to know about Natural England’s bird kill controversy

A group of Conservative MPs discussed the issue with Gove on Wednesday night and told The Telegraph that it was their understanding “the responsibility for licencing will now be shifted from Natural England back to DEFRA".

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