07
Dec
14

New venue announced for 2015 Scottish Birdfair – hurray!

Scottish BirdfairRSPB Scotland has announced its new venue for the 2015 Scottish Birdfair – Levenhall Links, east of Edinburgh.

Thank god they’ve finally ditched Hopetoun House, the controversial venue that hosted the Birdfair for the last three years.

The controversy centred on Hopetoun’s relationship with the Leadhills (Hopetoun) Estate in South Lanarkshire – a driven grouse moor with a shocking record:

2003 April: hen harrier shot [prosecution failed – inadmissible evidence]

2003 April: hen harrier eggs destroyed [prosecution failed – inadmissible evidence]

2004 May: buzzard shot [no prosecution]

2004 May: short-eared owl shot [gamekeeper convicted]

2004 June: buzzard poisoned (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2004 June: 4 x poisoned rabbit baits (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2004 June: crow poisoned (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2004 July: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2004 July: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2005 February: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2005 April: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2005 June: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2005 June: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2006 February: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2006 March: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2006 March: poisoned pigeon bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2006 April: dead buzzard (persecution method unknown) [no prosecution]

2006 May: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2006 May: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2006 May: poisoned egg baits (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2006 June: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2006 June: poisoned raven (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2006 June: 6 x poisoned rabbit baits (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2006 June: poisoned egg bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2006 September: 5 x poisoned buzzards (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2006 September: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2006 September: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2007 March: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2007 April: poisoned red kite (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2007 May: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2008 October: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran) [listed as ‘Nr Leadhills’] [no prosecution]

2008 October: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [listed as ‘Nr Leadhills’] [no prosecution]

2008 November: 3 x poisoned ravens (Carbofuran) [listed as ‘Nr Leadhills’] [no prosecution]

2009 March: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2009 March: poisoned raven (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2009 April: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran) [gamekeeper convicted]

2009 April: poisoned magpie (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2009 April: poisoned raven (Carbofuran) [no prosecution]

2010 October: short-eared owl shot [no prosecution]

2011 March: illegally-set clam trap [no prosecution]

2011 December: buzzard shot [no prosecution]

2012 October: golden eagle shot (just over boundary with Buccleuch Estate) [no prosecution]

2013 May: shot otter found on estate [no prosecution]

2013 June: significant cache of pre-prepared poisoned baits found on estate [no prosecution]

2013 August: red kite found shot and critically-injured in Leadhills village [no prosecution]

2014 February: poisoned peregrine (Carbofuran) [‘Nr Leadhills] [no prosecution]

Why RSPB Scotland ever thought that holding their prestigious event at Hopetoun House was a good idea remains a mystery – we blogged about it extensively and the RSPB’s decision to stay there caused many visitors, exhibitors and speakers to boycott the event (see here for an overview).

So we’re delighted, as probably are many others, to hear that the 2015 Scottish Birdfair will be at a new venue – Levenhall Links – a place with no known links to driven grouse shooting or any type of wildlife crime. Well done, RSPB Scotland.

RSPB press release here

Scottish Birdfair website here

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10 Responses to “New venue announced for 2015 Scottish Birdfair – hurray!”


  1. December 7, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    How does someone get away without prosecution when they have so many killings and preparing to kill findings?

    To me it says, corruption and money can get away with criminal activity. Then continue to do as they please!

    These people need to be brought down.

    Good to see the Bird Fair moved away.

    [Ed: Had to edit your comment slightly, Douglas. In strict legal terms, the responsibility for many of these crimes cannot be placed. The lack of prosecutions is due to a combination of poor enforcement procedures and the difficulty of identifying an individual culprit. The two successful prosecutions resulted in the conviction of two gamekeepers working on the estate].

  2. 2 crypticmirror
    December 7, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    Bloody hell, still Edinburgh centric though. I wish they would declare the East coast off limits to these events. Hold them in Haroldswick and it would still be easier to get to from anywhere else in Scotland than the Edinburgh region.

  3. 3 nirofo
    December 7, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    Great news that the RSPB as at last come to their senses and relocated the Scottish Bird Fair to a venue less controversial, why it took them so long is anybody’s guess, especially so when they knew about the well documented Raptor persecution taking place at Leadhills (Hopetoun) Estate . It’s just a pity they couldn’t have taken the opportunity to move to a more central location to made it easier for people in the far north to attend.

  4. 4 sue paduper
    December 7, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    Stuart Howsden RSPB should hang his head in shame. Allowing this venue to be used and attempting to deny lord hoptoun was unaware of the decades of persecution at leadhillsb estate was a major error of judgement and should be held accountable for this public relations disaster.

    I have avoided the bird fair and will now return now that it is being held at a suitable venue.

    What a spineless hypocrite he has shown himself to be.

  5. 5 Tony Warburton MBE
    December 7, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    While I take your point about the reason for the poor prosecution figures, surely 2 out of 46 reported cases says it all about the difficulties we face in combatting these illegal acts – and of course even these atrocious figures do not cover unreported/undiscovered crimes. Of course it is great new that the RSPB has finally realised that they were losing respect (and probably members), but why oh why did it take three years to sink in. Did you ever find out which person or which committee made the choice of Hopetoun for its Scottish Bird Fairs?

    • December 7, 2014 at 7:07 pm

      Yes, it absolutely exemplifies the difficulties. Police ineptness has played a part, especially for incidents in and around the Leadhills area, but this is exacerbated by the issue of identifying an actual individual suspect. For example, we know of other wildlife crimes on other estates where there has been a team of half a dozen gamekeepers and when interviewed, they all either say ‘no comment’ or none of them take responsibility for working a particular beat (e.g. the beat where a poisoned bait has been found) – they all claim to ‘share’ the beats across the estate. Similarly, when traces of poison have been found on game bags, knives, in vehicles etc, they all claim to ‘share’ the equipment, making it virtually impossible to identify the individual culprit(s). Hence the phrase, The Untouchables. This is one of the reasons vicarious liability was introduced, and almost certainly why Paul Wheelhouse introduced the restrictions on General Licences for estates that are, on the balance of probabilities, considered to be committing wildlife crime.

      And you’re right – the 46 incidents listed above are only the ‘confirmed’ incidents. This list does not include probable incidents or possible incidents, nor, obviously, incidents that haven’t been reported.

      We don’t know who at RSPB Scotland was responsible for choosing Hopetoun as the Birdfair venue, but the decision to stay there, even after our research demonstrated the link between Hopetoun & the management of the Leadhills (Hopetoun) Estate, would have been made at a senior level.

      It was an astonishing decision and, quite rightly, RSPB Scotland was severely criticised for it. We know a lot of people complained directly to the RSPB, and we know a lot of people boycotted the fair each year because of it. Although, some notable organisations and individuals didn’t boycott the fair, even though they knew about the link with Leadhills. Shame on them.

      But it’s time to move on. RSPB Scotland has chosen not to return to Hopetoun for this event, and we applaud that decision. Some of us will be attending the fair for the first time in 2015, safe in the knowledge that we’re not putting any money into the pockets of anyone connected to the Leadhills (Hopetoun) Estate.

  6. 7 Marco McGinty
    December 7, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    Glad that the RSPB has chosen an alternative location for the Scottish Birdfair, but saddened that they feel that a name change was required.

  7. 8 calm summer
    December 7, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    But lets not forget that it CAN be done…Lewis Whitham game keeper Leadhills. convicted surrounding the laying of poisonous baits at Leadhills…….. Why…..it was SSPCA that drove this case.

    There has been numerous occasions when the police have failed to investigate appropriately the most serious of offences at Leadhills.

    Remember the game-bags full of poisonous baits……

    The poisoned peregrine that wasn’t poisoned and then it was……

    the list goes on and on……many have never been made public.

    It is dangerous to give the impression that these offences are impossible to prove. They need to be treated seriously and have the right people dealing with them to have any chance of being solved and this obviously is not happening.

    Leadhills has got to have one of the worst track records in Scotland in terms of illegally killing protected wildlife and to hold the bird fair at a venue associated with it is a very bad decision indeed. Disgraceful!!!

  8. 9 Tony Warburton MBE
    December 7, 2014 at 10:24 pm

    Thanks for that RPS. How about finding a Minister/Magistrate/Sheriff who says “OK, so you say you all share the whole area beat, so in that case we’ll charge you all as one entity, including your boss now we (supposedly!) have VL on our side”!!!

  9. December 8, 2014 at 11:23 am

    Not before time, but a disgrace for being in bed with xxxxx xxxxx for so long. Of course they are still in bed with eagle killers in their support for wind farms in many of Scotland’s best eagle habitats. Another shameful RSPB high management policy.


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