Firstly Happy New Year to you all!
I thought I'd provide an update on the long awaited and much anticipated Natural England wildlife licensing data, which should have been published by now....
Discussions and Developments
My revelations last year about the shocking extent of wild bird control including mass culling sanctioned by Natural England, led to discussions I had with the agency in which I shared public concerns over the secrecy surrounding the wildlife licensing system and the quality of Natural England's decision making processes.
With the weight of hundreds of thousands of supporters behind me, I was able to secure a promise from Natural England's then operations director, James Diamond, that in future all licences issued by the agency would be published in full, annually, beginning before the end of 2019.
The information (the first installment of which I have been assured was all collated and checked as early as last October) should include (at least) details of every individual and class licence Natural England has issued, including the number of each species affected and the reasons for approving the licences. In other words, these will be statistics from which the public can draw their own conclusions and opinions about the effectiveness and suitability of Natural England's licensing system.
I was told yesterday by interim national operations director David Slater that the data would be live on the government website today (Friday 10th).
Unfortunately I received a further email from him late last night advising me of a further delay. He had misread the date, and publication was actually scheduled for next Friday.
Mistakes happen, but hundreds of thousands of people have been waiting very patiently to view this data and there is bound to be a backlash if it does not appear, on time, next week or if it is not as comprehensive and clear as we have been led to believe it will be.
Mr Slater told me in December that he is "keen to be as transparent as possible on our wildlife licensing work going forward."
That indeed bodes well for the future.
A good start will be to have a transparent look at the licensing statistics next week.
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