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Natural England issued the first licence on 17 September for the “West Gloucestershire pilot area”. Although their description says “The area lies predominantly within the council districts of the Forest of Dean and Tewkesbury”, it also states that “The application area does not include the area of the Public Forest Estate in the Statutory Forest of Dean.”
The second licence was issued on 4 October for the “West Somerset pilot area”. The description says “The application area is located in the county of Somerset. The application area predominantly lies within the council district of West Somerset and part lies within the district of Taunton Deane.”
As part of Natural England’s security arrangements for the pilots, no detailed location information is being released. So we are unable to tell you what, if any, of the Public Forest Estate is in the pilot areas or if applicants have, or have not, asked for permission to include any parts of it in their licence application.
However if parts of the Public Forest Estate in England fall within the pilot areas, as a Government Department we will work with Natural England, Defra and other landowners to implement the Government's policy.
We are committed to nature conservation management on the Public Forest Estate and have a long history of working closely with conservation groups. At the same time we have an obligation to be a responsible neighbour to other landowners and to work in support of Government policy.
Requests for access to Forestry Commission land by applicants for a Natural England licence to cull badgers will be managed case-by-case, in the same way as all other requests for access, through the Forestry Commission's normal permissions arrangements. All our assessments for permissions put public safety first. Forestry Commission employees will not be carrying out any culling activity.