Interim Gamebird Release Licence in England

Closed 15 Mar 2021

Opened 23 Feb 2021


In response to a legal challenge, the Secretary of State commissioned a review to consider the legislative arrangements around the release of the common pheasant and red-legged partridge on and around European protected sites and whether there are ways in which their effectiveness could be improved.

As part of that review, an independent report was considered which summarised the impacts of gamebird release on habitats and species. The independent report identified a number of key issues that influence the impacts (notably overall number of birds, density, and siting of pens), as well as a number of evidence gaps.

To manage any potential impacts while the current evidence gaps are addressed, Defra is proposing to introduce an interim licence by adding the common pheasant and the red-legged partridge to Part I, Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981), in respect of European protected sites and a 500m buffer zone. This proposal would mean a licence would be required for their release on European protected sites and within a 500m buffer zone of these sites.

Why your views matter

In accordance with the requirements of section 26(4) of WCA 1981, the Secretary of State is seeking any objections or representations of any local authority affected and any other person affected by the proposal to add the common pheasant and red-legged partridge to Schedule 9 to Part I of the WCA 1981 in respect of releases on the relevant sites[1] and a 500m buffer zone only.

The consultation also sets out the proposed gamebird general licence conditions and seeks views on whether they would be effective and proportionate in ensuring that releases do not cause deterioration or significant disturbance of protected features of SACs and SPAs. We are also asking for views on whether there are any alternative measures which would ensure that releases do not cause deterioration or significant disturbance of protected features of SACs or SPAs that could be implemented prior to the 2021 shooting season and the details of these.

The findings of the consultation will help us shape the interim 2021 gamebird release licensing regime. There will be further engagement to inform longer-term policy measures.


How to respond

Please submit your consultation response using the online survey link below

Alternatively, please email your response to:

The consultation document is available to view and download at the bottom of this page

Responses should be received by 15 March 2021. This is a three-week consultation.


[1]Relevant sites are all sites that fall within the definition of European sites in Regulation 8 of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017.



  • Environmental campaigners
  • Animal welfare campaigners
  • National Park Authorities
  • Local Authorities
  • Member of the General Public
  • Stakeholders


  • Natural environment
  • Biodiversity
  • Plants
  • Animals
  • Science
  • Conservation
  • Rural economy and communities
  • Nature reserves
  • Conservation
  • Non-native species