Natural England ‘dragged out’ its response to bird-kill challenge, lawyers allege

Natural England continued to resist a legal claim seeking to overturn the system of discretionary bird-kill licensing, despite being in receipt of advice from leading counsel that the claim was indefensible, lawyers have alleged in a letter.

Natural England announced in late April that it was revoking three general bird kill licences, permitting the killing of 16 species of birds, including crows, jays, magpies, jackdaws, rooks and parakeets. The decision followed a challenge from environmental campaigner Chris Packham’s legal outfit, Wild Justice, which maintained that the general licensing approach was unlawful.

In a letter sent last week, law firm Leigh Day, acting on behalf of Wild Justice, said that Natural England “finally conceded” that the three general licences were unlawful on 24 April - “an astonishing two months” after it had received legal advice to that effect from leading counsel.

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