Environment Committee takes evidence on licensing system for game bird hunting

This morning the Scottish Parliament’s Environment Committee will hear evidence on the Scottish Raptor Study Group’s petition to introduce a licensing system for all game bird hunting in Scotland.

The evidence session starts at 10am and you can watch it live here

UPDATE: The archived video of this session can be watched here

UPDATE 24 April 2017: Our commentary on the evidence session here

17 Responses to “Environment Committee takes evidence on licensing system for game bird hunting”

  1. April 18, 2017 at 9:17 pm

    Unable to watch this live. Is there a link to a recorded version?

  2. 3 Les Wallace
    April 19, 2017 at 11:05 am

    I watched it right through, Andrea, Logan and Duncan were brilliant. came over as intelligent, thoughtful and knowledgeable. The others didn’t. The guy from SLE was a serial waffler and every time he opened his gob was like watching a drowning man clutch at straws..’blah, blah. Otterburn, waders blah, blah, Otterburn, waders’. Andy Smith didn’t perform any better than he did last time – but Alex Hogg would have been even worse let’s face it, so Andy was the SGA’s big gun !?! As far as police time being taken up with minor crime I would have thought police cautioning dog walkers releasing magpies from Larsen traps fitted that description far more than finding the culprits pole trapping, poisoning and shooting protected raptors. The issue of just how much driven grouse shooting really does contribute to the rural economy came up on several occasions, a full, objective government commissioned study into how much grouse moors are getting in subsidy, what external costs they may pass to the public (increased water treatment charges and heightened flood risk) and their exclusion of what may be better options such as full blown eco tourism and natural flood alleviation measures as at Belford, Holnicote, Pontbren and Pickering, is desperately needed. Suspect the SLE and others wouldn’t welcome it, without being able to take the economic high ground the case for grouse moors collapses totally – and underline why no country outside of the UK wants anything to do with them, just one of the elephants in the room you get with DGS.

  3. 4 J .Coogan
    April 19, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    Totally agree with previous comments ,Logan ,Andrea, and Duncan came across very well, the spokesperson from SLE was like a throwback to Victorian times. Enlightening us as to how these mega millionaires dip their hands into their own hard earned savings to provide employment and to keep huge swathes of the Scottish countryside economically viable. Poor wee souls I think we should have a whip round for them. No word about subsidy payments , and remember the rich don’t get that way by running unprofitable” business models”.
    The old fallacy re. waders was trouped out time and time again, its amazing that Curlew are now red listed and yet grouse moors have been their saviours for decades?
    His arguments basically boiled down to money , more and more grouse= more and more guests =more and more profit and to hell with the rest. I got the impression that he was getting a little tetchy when the plebs had the audacity to question this. After all profit is king.
    As for Smith ,I am almost at a loss for words , I have to remind myself, with a shudder that he used to be a policeman ?? Regarding the rather repetitive points regarding interference to traps etc , does it never occur to him that this is a reflection of the total disgust that the public have with their brutal, cruel antics and that the time for this behaviour is past.
    As for SNH they must have callouses on their arse with sitting on the fence for so long .
    Les Wallace makes a good point, we should be fully concentrating on discrediting the two points to which they constantly return – the” economic benefits” and” good for nature” lie . If we can counter these two with scientific evidence and hard facts then we will REALLY weaken their case further.

    • April 19, 2017 at 5:01 pm

      ‘As for SNH they must have callouses on their arse with sitting on the fence for so long .’
      Yes that was an abysmal performance.
      A lesson in how to not rock the boat and get promoted.

  4. 6 Northern Diver
    April 19, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    I agree with above comments. I watched all the meeting and two points occurred to me.
    Firstly, the RSPB have been advocating Licensing for some years. Shouldn’t they have drawn up a draft licensing scheme for debate by now? Using the examples of the 14 other European countries with game shoot licensing and other resource based licensing schemes and tailoring it to Scotland. There would obviously have to be some elements of compromise and it would be up to the Scottish Government to scrutinise and draw up their own legislation but surely it would be a good idea to have something on the table to start with?
    Secondly – a minor but interesting point (to me). Why was David Johnstone not given his proper name & title – Lord David Patrick Wentworth Hope-Johnstone? Well, at least Lord David Hope-Johnstone anyway. Is it a ruse to cover up the fact that he is a member of the aristocratic land-owning classes (16 tenanted farms + multiple properties – Annandale Estates)?

    • April 19, 2017 at 5:07 pm

      Hilarious to see Lord David Patrick Wentworth Hope-Johnstone getting trapped into basically admitting that the problem with licensing was the increaed risk of getting caught.

      • April 19, 2017 at 9:44 pm

        It was a bit of a car crash…in a good way!
        I was impressed by the whole thing, very few of the MSP’s were tricked into asking daft questions (there were some!) and the team fielded everything with aplomb (and well presented evidence). I wish Orr-Ewing had calmly told the truth about the actual level of commitment SLE and SGA show to PAWS. The only possible delay to the introduction of licencing seems to be the forlorn belief that talking will sort it out!

    • 9 Adam
      April 21, 2017 at 10:37 pm

      When asked whether they are looking for a national system or one which can be “tweaked” locally Mr Steele said that “I wouldn’t be bold enough to predict what it would look like. I think it’s up to the architects of any licencing regime drawn up” (around 27:52). I think his position is commendable. They are, after all, raptor study groups, and I don’t think that one should expect them to produce an elaborate draft licencing scheme. Perhaps they could have engaged an advocate (or a solicitor) to provide a draft scheme, but I think that could have been a fairly expensive exercise and maybe they thought that it’s best to leave it to those experienced in drafting legislation.

      Regarding your second point, Mr David Johnstone is the heir apparent of Patrick Andrew Wentworth Hope-Johnstone, the 11th Earl of Annandale and Hartfell. According to the Stair Memorial Encyclopaedia:
      ‘The eldest sons of dukes, marquesses and earls usually have courtesy titles. They are styled ‘The Honourable’. On such documents this should appear before the full name, and after the name it is usual to add the courtesy title prefixed by the words “commonly called”.’ (The Laws of Scotland: Stair Memorial Encyclopaedia, Peerage, vol 16, para 1322.) See also Debrett’s: ‘The son and heir apparent of a duke, marquess or earl may use one of his father’s peerage titles by courtesy providing it is of a lesser grade than that used by his father.’ https://www.debretts.com/expertise/essential-guide-to-the-peerage/courtesy-titles/

      Mr Johnstone could use the courtesy title ‘Lord Johnstone’ (which is the subsidiary title held by the current earl), but he doesn’t have to. Courtesy titles are just honorifics and the substantive title (in this case the Earldom of Annandale and Hartfell) is held by the actual peer.

      • 10 Northern Diver
        April 22, 2017 at 10:27 am

        You must have misread my comment, Adam. I wrote that the RSPB should have drawn up a draft licensing scheme by now, not the raptor groups, who I am well aware are voluntary. The RSPB surely have the funds and expertise (or could hire it) to do this?
        Also, thank you for the information on the etiquette of aristocratic titles. As an unlanded peasant, I am busy tugging my forelock now!!!

        • 11 Iain Gibson
          April 22, 2017 at 12:31 pm

          The only problem about RSPB being tasked with, or voluntarily providing a draft licensing scheme, is that it is rather unlikely to be considered impartial by the opposition. You may as well ask Chris Packham to do it. It would probably have to be drawn up by Government legal experts in consultation with the interested parties.

          • 12 Northern Diver
            April 22, 2017 at 1:31 pm

            Yes, obviously it wouldn’t be the final governmental legislation – merely a starting point for what the conservation side would like to see – and a suggestion based on other countries systems as to how it could be framed. It would be for the Scottish Government to tweak, scrap or utilise as they saw fit. But I think it would be a good idea to have something on the table to show a possible way forward. I mean, things can’t go on as they are, in my opinion. There must be some hope for our upland environments.

            • 13 Adam
              April 22, 2017 at 6:58 pm

              I have indeed misread your comment. And I agree that RSPB could have drawn up a draft licensing scheme. Having watched the evidence session of the committee there was a distinct lack of detail as to how any regulation would operate.

  5. 14 J .Coogan
    April 19, 2017 at 4:02 pm

    Good god , thanks for that Northern Diver , interesting, that nugget of information was somehow missed , one would think he would insist on his proper title , just gives another insight as to what we are up against.

  6. April 19, 2017 at 9:46 pm

    What is clear is that we really need an evidence blog… somewhere people can submit and collate evidence?photos etc showing the breaches of codes of practice.

  7. 16 Iain Gibson
    April 21, 2017 at 7:34 pm

    Dear oh dear. I have to say that I was impressed with the contribution from the petitioners’ side, and without detracting from the others at all, particularly so with the way it was handled by Duncan Orr-Ewing. He came across as transparently honest, authoritative and pulling few punches. However ‘circusmaxim’ (above) touches upon the aspect of this and previous parliamentary sessions, in fact the entire raptor persecution debate, that I find frustrating. This is that there are too many areas where scientific evidence is conspicuous by its absence. I don’t believe the evidence does not exist, but can’t understand why it is not used more constructively, for example, to refute the persistent argument submitted by the shooting interests that Curlews and Lapwings are thriving on grouse moors, in contrast to their serious decline elsewhere. And they still continue to quote the “research” which allegedly demonstrated tremendous avian biodiversity on a mystery grouse moor somewhere, without any real challenge being submitted (except in the confines of RPUK, and a handful of other obscure corners not prominent in the public domain).

    However my main concern about lack of transparency, and I don’t apologise for raising this again, is the amount of evidence which exists in observers’ notebooks and field experience, [Ed: the rest of this comment has been deleted]

  8. 17 Iain Gibson
    April 21, 2017 at 9:57 pm

    Is there a reason why my response has been removed?

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