You’d better make sure you’re sitting down:
“Thank you for your email to Andrew Bachell. I am writing to give you an update.
SNH issued a restriction on the use of General Licences in two separate locations in November 2015. Following this, Raeshaw Farms Limited petitioned the Courts to seek a Judicial Review (JR) of our decision. The Court has yet to make a decision as to whether or not a JR will proceed but we expect a decision shortly.
As an interim measure during the petitions process the Judge suspended the restriction up until 10th June 2016. This date has now passed and the use of General Licences on this land is once more prohibited. Our website has been updated accordingly.
In response to an application from Raeshaw Farms Limited, we have granted them an individual licence to carry out some activities otherwise permitted under General Licence. This licence is subject to specific conditions and controls. This will allow the business to continue to operate but under tighter scrutiny rather than the relatively ‘light touch’ approach to Regulation that General Licences afford.
We will issue a press statement once the legal proceedings have concluded.
Nick Halfhide, SNH Director of Operations”
This is unbelievable, even by SNH standards.
SNH issued a General Licence restriction order on Raeshaw Estate as a sanction for recent alleged raptor persecution crimes, on the basis of evidence provided to SNH by Police Scotland (see here and here). Even though that evidence wasn’t enough for a criminal prosecution, SNH must have been satisfied that it was sufficient to warrant this penalty, otherwise they wouldn’t have issued the GL restriction order.
Raeshaw Estate has been the subject of several police raids in connection with alleged wildlife crime since 2004, although none have resulted in a prosecution (see here).
SNH’s procedures for issuing a GL restriction are now subject to a potential judicial review but the GL restriction is now back in place on Raeshaw Estate after a temporary suspension by the court.
So why the hell has SNH now issued an individual licence to permit the very activities their GL restriction is supposed to prevent?!
What is the point of having a GL restriction in place if SNH is then going to totally undermine it by issuing an individual licence?
SNH says the individual licence is “subject to specific conditions and controls”. And what might they be? Unless you’ve got an enforcement officer shadowing the individual licence holder (wholly impractical and unrealistic), SNH is placing a huge amount of trust in the individual licence user to comply with these ‘specific conditions and controls’. That’ll be the trust that SNH deemed absent from the estate when it issued the GL restriction order.
UNBELIEVABLE. Remember this the next time the Scottish Government says it’s getting tough on wildlife crime.