Wildlife licences

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

  • Wildlife licences
  • Brexit
  • What is a wildlife licence?
  • When is a wildlife licence required?
  • Grant of licences
  • Principles
  • Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
  • Habitats Regulations 2017
  • Grant of licences
  • Environment Act 2021
  • More...

Wildlife licences


11 pm (GMT) on 31 December 2020 marked the end of the Brexit transition/implementation period entered into following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. At this point in time (referred to in UK law as ‘IP completion day’), key transitional arrangements came to an end and significant changes began to take effect across the UK’s legal regime.

What is a wildlife licence?

A wildlife licence is a licence to grant permission for work that affects protected species of animal and plants. It allows an activity that would otherwise be illegal.

There are three types of licence issued in the UK by relevant bodies—general, class, individual. There are also organisational licences and in certain parts of England, specific licences are issued at a district level.

Natural England (NE) have issued guidance on which licence you may need, how to apply and when you may need to pay.

In March 2022 the government published its Nature Recovery Green Paper (the Green Paper) for consultation. The Green Paper proposes consolidating and rationalising provisions on species to make them clearer and more accessible to the public, law enforcement and other regulatory agencies to improve the protection of species. In particular the Green Paper proposes consolidation in the area of licensing, where the ‘system of licensing has evolved along with the legislation over many years, and has become complex, inconsistent, and outdated’.

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