Changes to Animal Welfare Licensing

The New Legislation

The Government has recently published the  Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 under section 13 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Under the new laws a number of animal related activities will all be covered under a single type of licence, known as an animal activity licence, rather than under separate licences. The legislation is accompanied by new nationally set licence conditions which are contained in Schedules 3 to 7 of the regulations - click on the links below to see the activities contained in the regulations, along with the guidance, which is both available to operators in achieving compliance, and to inspectors, when undertaking an inspection.

The regulations come into effect on 1st October 2018 and will replace the licensing and registration currently in place under the following legislation:

  • Pet Animals Act 1951
  • Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963
  • Riding Establishments Acts 1964 & 1970
  • Breeding of Dogs Act 1973 & Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999
  • Performing Animals (Regulation) Act 1925

 

The Application Process

If you have a licence under one of the above pieces of legislation that is in force on 1st October 2018, it will continue to be valid until it is due to expire. You will then need to apply for a licence under the new regulations. If your existing licence is due to expire before 1st October 2018 then you will need to apply to renew it under the existing laws; it will remain valid until it expires at which point you will need to apply for a new licence under the new regulations.

We will write to all current licence holders with licences which will shortly expire, to invite them to apply for a new licence. Ideally an application for a licence under the new regulations should be made no later than 10 weeks before the current licence is due to expire to allow time for the application to be dealt with. When available a standard application form will be made available on our website.

 

Inspections

All premises will be inspected before the licence is granted. The inspector will be looking to make sure the applicant has the following:

  • a specialist knowledge in the species they are caring for and a clear understanding of its needs and welfare - i.e. mental and physical health, feeding, and knowledge of environmental enrichment.
  • Comprehensive records that contain all the information required by the conditions that apply to their particular activities.
  • An understanding of risks involved in caring for the animal, including an extensive risk assessment and written policies and procedures that are reviewed regularly. These documents should be available for the Inspector to examine.
  • Training procedures in place to make sure staff know what is expected of them, and clear evidence of good supervision of staff.

The inspection findings will be fed into the following scoring matrix which determines both the licence duration (either 1, 2 or 3 years), but also a star rating which will be given to a business. If the applicant is not happy with the decision, they can make improvements to address highlighted issues, submit an appeal, or ask for re-inspection.

 

 

Scoring Matrix

Welfare Standards

Minor Failings

Minimum Standards

Higher Standards

Risk

Low Risk

1 Star

(1 year licence)

3 Star

(2 year licence)

5 Star

(3 year licence)

Higher Risk

1 Star

(1 year licence)

2 Star

(1 year licence)

4 Star

(2 year licence)


Duration of licences

Under the new regulations, a licence will last for either 1, 2 or 3 years. During inspection we will consider two main aspects:

  • Firstly the welfare standards observed, which are based upon assessment of a range of criteria, including records, staffing, the environment, diet, and the protection of the animals from pain and suffering. The inspection findings will determine whether there are 'minor failings', 'minimum standards' are achieved or 'higher standards' have been met.

  • Secondly, the risk, which is largely based on the history of compliance of the business, and also upon the licence holder's appreciation of hazards and risks. The overall risk will be determined as being either 'low' or 'higher'.

As this is a new regime, it is likely that in the first instance most operators will achieve either a 1 or 2 star rating, and the licence will initially last for 1 year.


Premises with lower star ratings

A premises with a lower star rating is not necessarily a premises to avoid as there are other factors that have to be considered, such as the length of time the licence holder has been operating. New businesses will be assessed as slightly higher risk simply because there is no history of good practice that can be considered.

 

Premises with higher star ratings

A premises with a higher star rating indicates that the licence holder has achieved a set of higher standards that are specific to their type of activity. These are defined in the relevant guidance documents.


Fees

Chichester District Council is yet to set the fees that will be charged for licences under the new regulations. Once the fees have been approved, they will be available to view on our website.

Dangerous Wild Animals and Zoos

The new regulations do not have any impact upon licences issued under The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 and the Zoo Licensing Act 1981.