1. Introduction

1.1 Accessibility

We have actively considered the needs of blind and partially sighted people in accessing this document.

We will make this document available in full on our website and you may download and translate it into other accessible formats.

If you have other needs in this regard, contact the licensing service on [email protected].

1.2 Definitions

While every effort has been made to avoid the overuse of technical terms, this is not always possible. Appendix 1 contains a list of definitions which may be of help in explaining some of the key words and phrases used in this document.

1.3 Buckinghamshire Council

Buckinghamshire Council came into effect on 1 April 2020, bringing together the former Buckinghamshire County Council, and the four District Councils of Aylesbury Vale, Chiltern, South Bucks and Wycombe.

The county has a population of over 540,000 residents and includes the towns of Buckingham, Winslow, Aylesbury, Wendover, Princess Risborough, Chesham, Amersham, High Wycombe, Beaconsfield and Gerrards Cross.

The county has a significant amount of rural space with over a quarter of the county within the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Beauty and a further third is covered by the Metropolitan Green Belt.

The new unitary area is host to a broad range of businesses that have activities involving animals as their focus. There are also currently a number of small zoos and private keepers of dangerous wild animals based in the area.

View a map showing the Council’s area.

A search can be carried out to see if an address or particular premises falls within this area through the local authority finder.

Buckinghamshire Council aims to make Buckinghamshire the best place to live, raise a family, work and do business. The Council wants the county to be a place where everyone can be proud of, with excellent services, thriving businesses, and outstanding public space for everyone. A place where residents, regardless of background, have access to great opportunities, living healthy, successful lives and ageing well with independence. These ambitions are summarised in The Council’s key priorities:

  • strengthening our communities
  • improving our environment
  • protecting the vulnerable
  • increasing prosperity

Licensing has a crucial role to play in achieving these goals, through the formulation of policy, decision-making, promotion of best practice and enforcement activities.

1.4 Role of the Council in Animal Welfare

Buckinghamshire Council has statutory responsibilities for the licensing of a number of activities relating to the welfare of animals under the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976, and the Zoo Licensing Act 1981.

These pieces of legislation are aimed at protecting the welfare and safety of animals and those that interact with them and make it an offence for any person to own or keep animals in order to carry out certain businesses or have possession of certain animals without first being licensed by the Council.

Other areas of animal health are dealt with by Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading standards. This relates to legislation aimed at protecting both human health through the food chain and animal health. Trading Standards are also involved in enforcing measures to protect the welfare of livestock in transit or at abattoirs.

There are some cases where there may be some overlap of responsibilities, for example where livestock species are kept by operators holding licences for the keeping or training of animals for exhibition. In these instances, Licensing Officers may work in partnership with Trading Standards Officers.

1.5 Relevant Legislation

The list below sets out the main pieces of legislation that are used by licensing services in relation to operators of businesses involving animal related activities and keepers of certain types of animal:

1.6 About this Policy

This is Buckinghamshire Council’s first published animal licensing policy statement, “Policy”. The Policy replaces any animal licensing policies adopted by the previous District Councils of Aylesbury Vale, Chiltern, South Bucks and Wycombe.

Whilst there is no legal requirement for the Council to have a Policy relating to animal licensing, a policy benefits all interested parties, providing a clear and consistent framework for the Council’s approach to animal licensing.

The Policy sets out how Buckinghamshire Council will work to ensure that there is a level playing field for operators of animal related businesses, ensuring that persons responsible for the management of animal welfare observe standards of good practice, and that residents can feel confident that licensed businesses offer a good standard of animal welfare and are compliant with legislation. The Policy will set out how operators of businesses and keepers of animals requiring a licence will be assessed as being suitable or “fit and proper” to keep these animals and operate this type of business.

In preparing this new Policy, Buckinghamshire Council has taken into account the latest statutory guidance produced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), guidance from other Government departments, the Local Government Association, best practice and the views of a wide range of stakeholders.

Examples of best practice and industry standards that the Council would consider include – guidance provided by the Local Government Animal Welfare Group, DEFRA codes of welfare, care guidance provided by animal welfare charities such as the RSPCA and advice provided by organisations such as British Equestrian, Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association or the Canine Feline Sector Group.

The Licensing Authority has consulted widely in the formulation of this Policy, including the following:

  • Licensees holding a current LAIA Licence, DWA Licence or Zoo Licence
  • Licensing Committee
  • Ward Councillors
  • Town Councils and Parish Councils
  • Cabinet Member for Regulatory Services
  • Thames Valley Police
  • Neighbouring Local Authorities
  • Local residents and businesses
  • Buckinghamshire’s Safeguarding Children Partnership
  • Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards
  • Local Government Animal Welfare Group
  • Veterinary Inspectors authorised by Buckinghamshire Council
  • Other stakeholders

There are many types of animal related businesses that do not currently require a licence – examples include animal rescue centres, livery yards, dog walkers, dog groomers and similar. For this reason they do not form part of this policy.

It is anticipated that changes to existing legislation and the introduction of new legislation will bring a wider range of animal related activities into scope for requiring a licence. A review of the LAIA Regulations is currently underway and it is anticipated that new regulations will be introduced under the AWA 2006, for example in relation to the private keeping of primates. Significant changes to the licensing of zoos are also expected.

With this in mind and to ensure that the policy remains fit for purpose, it will be reviewed as legislative changes occur and updated accordingly, with a formal review being carried out at least every 5 years. We may make minor amendments to this policy, with the agreement of the Chairman of the Licensing Committee, Cabinet Member for Regulatory Services and the Head of Service.