Recreational hunting of waterfowl using guns. Punt gunning uses a gun mounted in a small water craft

Key locations

Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve. Wildflowling also takes place on a small area of the Tweed estuary.

Frequency of Activity

Seasonal activity during winter months

Potential issues

  • Visual or noise disturbance to protected SPA birds
  • Disturbance to seals hauling out around Holy Island
  • Physical trampling on intertidal habitats and species

Features of Marine Protected Areas which might be affected

  • Birds (wintering)
  • Sand and mud flats
  • Inlets and bays
  • Grey seal

Relevant Legislation (England)

A number of legal powers, duties or regulatory tools exist which are relevant to this activity and its management. These are summarised in the table below:

Legal Powers or Duties Legislation Lead Organisation
Power to create Bylaws on National Nature Reserves National Park and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 (Sections 20 and 106) Natural England
Requirement for Consent, Assent or Advice from Nature England before certain activities take place on SSSIs 


Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) (Section 28) Natural England
Requirement for all Competent Authorities to undertake a Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) before granting permission for plans or projects 


The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (Regulation 63)


As modified by the Conservation of Habitats and Species (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 


Details of Current Management (England)

The Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve (NNR) is the main location for wildfowling along the Berwickshire and Northumberland coast. Wildfowling is also permitted on a small section of the Tweed estuary.

Natural England has Bylaws in place at the Lindisfarne NNR which restrict wildfowling activity and operate a wildfowl permit scheme for the site. Populations are regularly monitored and an annual end of season report provides data on returns for the year. A wildfowl warden enforces and monitors compliance with licence conditions.

Eight punt gun permits are available, four for the people of Holy Island, four for people who live off the island. Two island permits are currently issued, and all four off-island permits are in use. Punt gunning is further regulated by a restriction of only one boat being allowed to operate for the purpose of this activity at any one time. Tides, weather and the cost of shot also help to regulate punt gunning to a sustainable level.

Lindisfarne Refuge Project was initiated by Natural England and in collaboration with the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) and the Northumbria, Tyneside and Durham Wildfowlers, has set aside a part of the NNR where wildfowling is not allowed. The ‘Refuge Area’ covers Budle Bay and the south end of Fenham Flats, including half of the seagrass beds.

Gaps in Management (England)

There is limited knowledge about the wider impacts of punt gunning