Greylag geese and the moonlit sky ©Lorne Gill. For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or www.nature.scot

Licensing news

Read seasonal updates on species licensing and hear about new best practice guidelines and application requirements.

Get the latest news about Scottish Natural Heritage licensing – from details of new application requirements to seasonal updates on species licensing.

SNH to launch General Licence Consultation 2019

A 12-week consultation about General Licences will take place later this year, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) announced today (21 May).

A General Licence is a type of species licence that allows users to control wild birds or destroy their nests, for reasons such as preventing serious damage to crops, protecting public health, and guarding air safety when flocks of birds are liable to get in flight paths.

Robbie Kernahan, SNH’s Head of National Operations, said:

“We want to ensure that General Licences in Scotland are clear, proportionate and fit-for-purpose.

“In light of the complicated situation in England with General Licences right now, we have decided to bring forward our consultation which had been scheduled for 2020.

“Our General Licences cover relatively common situations – such as preventing agricultural damage and protecting public health and safety – when there’s unlikely to be any conservation impact on a species. They avoid the need for people to apply for individual licences for these specific situations. As with any licence, we need to ensure that General Licences strike the appropriate balance between species conservation and a range of other legitimate interests.”

“We would like to reassure those who are currently operating under General Licences in Scotland that these remain in place, allowing those who comply with the conditions to continue to use them.”

The consultation will ask stakeholders for their views about how General Licences work in practice, what they should cover, and how they are worded.

BLIMP – new Bat Low Impact licensing approach

The SNH Licensing team have launched the new bat low impact licensing approach or ‘BLIMP’, which is a lighter touch licensing approach for development works affecting low numbers of non-breeding soprano and common pipistrelle bats. Without altering the outcome for bats and bat roosts across Scotland, BLIMP will reduce the need for submission of individual licence applications and enable low-impact development activities to go ahead with minimal bureaucracy. As licensing authority, SNH want to ensure that our protected species conservation objectives are fulfilled whilst allowing people to get on with activities that realise social, economic and environmental benefits.

To gain a BLIMP licence ecologists will need to hold a current bat survey licence which is valid for Scotland, and will have a proven track record of expert experience and good practice. Bat surveys will be undertaken in accordance with BCT Good Practice Guidelines, and a species protection plan will be produced for each site incorporating  industry accepted mitigation and compensation to safeguard bats.  SNH licensing team will undertake quality assurance annually, and undertake site visits to check compliance with licence conditions.  

Common and soprano pipistrelle bats are generally well understood, are common and widespread throughout Scotland and are of favourable conservation status.  The availability of suitable habitats for soprano and common pipistrelle species bats, their favourable population dynamics and range will not be affected by licensing in this way. It is anticipated that BLIMP will incentivise and promote good survey and best practice.  It will support planners in fulfilment of their duties and remove potential delays to developers associated in having to apply for licences. In addition, BLIMP will reduce time and cost implications for bat ecologists and their clients whilst enabling  SNH to prioritise greater time and resources on bat issues with higher conservation impact. 

If you are a licensed bat ecologist and would like to apply for BLIMP please follow this link and read the instructions under the section titled “How to apply”.