§ Mr. Tony Banks
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will give details of the single licences issued in 1991 and 1992 which resulted in a total of 989 bullfinches being shot; to whom the licences were issued; which premises were involved; and what inspections of the premises were made by her Department before the licences were issued.
§ Mr. Soames
[holding answer 1 March 1994]: The Ministry issues a general licence each year to allow commercial fruit growers in those areas most affected by bullfinches to kill or take these birds during the period of greatest damage in order to protect their crops. This general licence, which has been approved by English Nature, the statutory conservation agency, is valid from 1 November to 30 April each year and for 1991 and 1992 it was limited to the counties of Essex, Kent and Suffolk; the districts of East and South Cambridgeshire, Fenland and Huntingdon in the county of Cambridgeshire; and the district of Stratford-on-Avon and the parishes of Brandon and Bretford, Monks Kirby and Sherbourne in the county of Warwickshire.
Growers using the licence are not inspected by the Ministry but they are required to send the Ministry a report of the number of birds killed or taken under the authority of the licence. The locations of the farms reporting action under the licence are shown.
Number of returns County 1991 1992 Kent 9 14 Suffolk 1 1 Cambridgeshire (part) 1 1