Animal Activities Licensing

You may be aware of legislation about to go through Parliament to come into force on 5th Oct 2018 whereby hobbyist bird keepers if deemed “commercial” by their local authority will be required to be licensed later this year.

The National Council Aviculture (NCA) have been liaising with SUN and other like minded groups to alert members of the need to write to their MP’s seeking their help.

We urge all members to use the below letter to write to your MP. Time is of the essence as we are advised that this matter will be discussed in Parliament on 05 April, 2018. The more letters from across the country the better. The address to write to your MP is House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.

This subject is also being covered by “Cage & Aviary Birds” in this weeks issue.


Grant D Findlay

Society Administrator

The Budgerigar Society

PS – If you don’t know the name of your MP this can be obtained from the website





I am writing to you in my capacity as a hobbyist: I am a keen birdkeeper, one of a countrywide community of enthusiasts whose passion is the keeping, breeding and (in many cases) exhibiting of our favourite bird breeds and species.

I would like to tell you how worried I am about the consequences of the amendments to the Animal Welfare Bill that DEFRA has suddenly announced will become law on October 5th 2018. My worry is with the proposed new Animal Activities Licence (AAL). DEFRA says this must apply to all “animal activities” that are deemed “commercial” – which could easily include straightforward hobbyist birdkeeping.

The AAL is to be administered by inspectors from local authorities, who will follow DEFRA guidelines, soon to be published – a minimum 80 pages of them. These inspectors will decide, for example, whether a birdkeeper is “aiming to make a profit” by selling the surplus birds s/he has bred. If yes, that birdkeeper is “commercial”, must pay for a fixed-term licence, be subject to repeated local authority inspections, and fall foul of a huge new burden of red tape: all totally unnecessary.

For centuries, it’s been common practice in our hobby for birdkeepers to sell to fellow hobbyists the surplus birds they’ve bred. And in a good breeding season, a canary keeper might breed lots and sell a good few. Across all the bird species and varieties, that is how hobbyists’ stock is healthily shared out, and how birdkeepers gain new challenges and interests. In selling, the aim, of course, is to recoup some of the costs of feed, housing, etc – to try and help your hobby pay for itself. That is not the same as “aiming to make a profit”.

Countless bird clubs and societies organise sales of surplus stock every year: all under licence, all subject to stringent animal-welfare and biosecurity regulations. They hope to defray their club running costs: that is not the same as “aiming to make a profit”.

Some of the DEFRA guidelines do acknowledge that the above activities could be deemed “out of scope” of AAL. But it’s all down to those local authority inspectors – and if an individual inspector were to be prejudiced against birdkeeping then AAL would offer huge power of oppression against the practice of a peaceful, creative hobby. (How on earth local authorities are expected to cope with this unlimited extra workload is another matter.)

Please be clear that I’m NOT anti-licensing when it comes to the commercial trade. But the background to AAL makes plain that it was designed to clarify the law on things like petshops, commercial dog-breeding, riding schools and animal boarding. The suddenly announced extension to EVERY “animal activity” threatens to shove all manner of hobbyist breeders into the “commercial” camp. To do this, DEFRA has bypassed until a very late stage, our representatives from the hobbyist sector, such as the Sustainable Users Network (SUN), whose sole aim is to help with expert advice that will make new legislation workable, just and (of course) beneficial to animal welfare.

DEFRA says it wants to reduce regulatory cover, but its AAL looks set to increase red tape massively! Please represent me by helping to get AAL properly re-drafted – most especially with a much clearer delineation between the commercial and private sector – even if means a six-month delay in implementation (to April 2019) rather than just waved through in the next couple of months. Please apply pressure to refer the botched AAL consultation and derisory Impact Assessment to the Better Regulation Executive, and for referral to the Parliamentary Regulatory Committee. Please don’t let our large constituency of peaceful and legitimate hobbyists be needlessly penalised.





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