Licence to conduct trial designed to save species on the brink of extinction found lawful


Re: R (RSPB) v Natural England and R(Avery) v Natural England [2019] EWHC 585 (Admin)

The RSPB and Mark Avery brought claims for judicial review to challenge the lawfulness of the grant of a licence granted by Natural England, an executive non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to conduct a trial into the brood management of hen harriers, a species on the brink of extinction.

Held: Application for judicial review dismissed. The judge found that NE had lawfully concluded that the licence was permitted under section 16(1)(a) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, without consideration of alternative means of conserving hen harriers. They found that the NE’s purpose of the license, to further the conservation of hen harriers, was not inconsistent with the purpose of the Special Protection Areas and that the proposed trial was appropriate and proportionate in order to achieve the permitted objective of conducting a trial.

David Wolfe QC and Zoe Leventhal were involved in this case.