Above: the NCA’s Chris Smith said the AAL guidance notes refer to a trading income threshold of £1,000: ‘This means many canary and budgie breeders falling under this threshold would not be considered in the context of a business’
CAGE & AVIARY BIRDS is urging all readers to write to their local MPs in a united stand against DEFRA plans for a blanket Animal Activities Licence (AAL).
As reported in last week’s issue, the proposed single licensing system for “commercial breeders” could see bird vendors forced to apply for fixed-term licences and to comply with inspections by local authority officials. The implications of AAL will depend on whether local authority officials determine breeders to be “commercial” or “hobbyist”.
To try to ensure hobbyist bird breeders are not burdened by this licensing regime, birdkeeping organisations such as the National Council for Aviculture (NCA), the Parrot Society UK (PSUK) and The Hawk Board, have written to environment secretary Michael Gove to point out the flaws in the proposals. Each organisation has voiced its concern over the impact on birdkeepers, calling the AAL criteria “vague and contradictory”, and encourages individual members and other organisations to take similar action.
In its letter to Mr Gove, the Hawk Board says: “There are many other issues that will arise from these poorly written and ill-considered amendments and the associated guidance.”
The PSUK warns that the draft AAL in its current form will present serious problems for hobbyist birdkeepers.
Chairman Alan Jones said: “Hobbyist could well be drawn into having to be licensed. It may well be too late to stop the draft legislation becoming law in October this year, but we can hopefully influence the guidance notes for local authorities.”
The NCA’s Chris Smith, who has seen the unpublished AAL guidance notes for conditions for selling animals as pets, said: “Where an individual can demonstrate the activity is undertaken as a hobby and that they are selling their own surplus stock without making a profit, this would be outside the scope of licensing.”
He continued: “But we need a clear definition as to what constitutes a ‘business’. If we do not act now, it will be too late and many will suffer the consequences.”
We ask readers to help try to get AAL re-drafted. Simply cut out the letter (opposite), or download it from the C&AB website, and send it completed to your local MP to express your concerns.
Read more on page 5, March 28 issue.
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