Wildlife licences
Wildlife licences

The following Environment practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Wildlife licences
  • What is a wildlife licence?
  • When is a wildlife licence required?
  • Principles
  • Mitigation
  • Regulatory bodies
  • England
  • Wales
  • Types of licence
  • General licences
  • More...

What is a wildlife licence?

A wildlife licence is required to carry out any activity prohibited under wildlife legislation, including to:

  1. kill or take certain protected species to prevent problems

  2. carry out surveys or conservation work

  3. disturb or damage the habitat of certain strictly protected species, and

  4. possess or keep certain wildlife

There are four types of licence: general, class, individual and organisational.

Natural England have issued Guidance on which licence you may need, how to apply and when you may need to pay.

When is a wildlife licence required?

The wildlife offences in sections 1, 5, 6(3), 7 and 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (WCA 1981) will not apply to anything done for certain prescribed purposes under and in accordance with the terms of a licence granted by the appropriate authority. For example, a wildlife licence is required if you plan to carry out an activity which will disturb or remove wildlife or damage habitats. Licences are only issued if the activity meets certain legislative requirements. There must also be a likelihood that an offence will occur; if there is a negligible risk of an offence being caused then this negates the requirement for a licence.


Licences are only issued for specified purposes which are set down in the legislation (eg protecting public health and safety, preventing damage to property, etc), and only if certain specific

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