Members received a report for noting regarding upcoming reforms that are being made to the licensing of animal-related activities under the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals)(England) Regulations 2018.
The Senior Practitioner (Licensing) (SPL), Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS) introduced the report and explained that following consultation commenced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in December 2015 a document setting out their proposals to reform licensing for different animal establishments entitled “The review of animal establishments licenses in England - next steps” was published in February 2017. Members were referred to this publication at Appendix 1 of the report.
Subsequently regulations to bring the changes into effect were approved, and the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals)(England) Regulations 2018 were published on 16th April 2018. The SPL advised that the regulations would be coming into effect on 1st October 2018. Members were referred to the regulations at Appendix 2 of the report.
The SPL explained that under the regulations the existing licensing scheme for animal boarding establishments, pet shops, riding establishments and dog breeders would be repealed and replaced by a new single licensing scheme that would regulate all of these activities and would also incorporate the licensing of those who train or exhibit performing animals which is an area of licensing currently administered in Worcestershire by the County Council.
The current licensing schemes for zoos and those who keep dangerous wild animals would not be affected by the regulations and would continue to be carried out under existing legislative provisions.
The SPL highlighted that under the new regulations the following changes would be introduced:-
· The ability for one licence to authorise more than one activity, for example kennelling and breeding;
· That licences for periods of longer than 1 year could be granted (up to a maximum of 3 years) where deemed appropriate based on risk assessments;
· That standard conditions would be applied thus eliminating differences in conditions as between different areas;
· That the breeding of dog litters would be tightened up on with a lower threshold at which licensing for breeders would be required.
The SPL advised Members that since the report had been written legal advice had been given as to what steps the partner authorities of WRS would have to take to in order to set the necessary fees under the new regime and give appropriate delegations to the officers from WRS. As the regulations would be coming into effect on 1st October 2018, these matters would have to be dealt with before then. It was noted that the next scheduled meeting of Licensing Committee was not due to take place until November. Accordingly Members were advised that an extra meeting of Licensing Committee would have to be arranged to take place in September. The meeting would need to take place in advance of the Full Council meeting in September to allow the Licensing Committee to receive an updated report on the administrative arrangements for the introduction of the regulations and to make recommendations to Council as to fees and delegations. The SPL explained that the other partner authorities in Worcestershire that made up WRS would all be going through the same process in advance on 1st October.
The members briefly commented on the regulations in relation to the DEFRA consultation and the changes to the regime of licensing for dog breeders.
The Democratic Services Officer advised that a date for the additional September meeting would be identified in liaison with officers from WRS and once confirmed members would be notified.
the contents of the report on Animal Establishment Licensing Reforms be noted.
[In relation to this agenda item Cllr Joanne Beecham declared that she was the owner of a cattery. However, as the report was only for noting in relation to changes to the legislation and Members were not making a decision that would affect Councillor Beecham, she remained present during consideration of this item.]