07
Jun
17

New petition calling for study on economic impact of driven grouse shooting

A new public petition has been launched by Les Wallace asking the Scottish Parliament to ‘urge the Scottish Government to sponsor a comprehensive and independent study into the full economic impacts of driven grouse shooting’.

The petition can be read here.

It seems that Les was way ahead of the game because as his petition was being finalised, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham surprised everyone with her announcement last week that, among other things, she intends to ‘commission research into the costs and benefits of large shooting estates to Scotland’s economy and biodiversity‘.

This would appear to supercede Les’s petition, although the wording is slightly different and we don’t yet know the finer details of Roseanna’s plans, including whether there’ll be a focused assessment of the economics of driven grouse shooting, as Les is calling for.

The grouse shooting industry often shouts about its economic benefit to the Scottish economy and uses this as justification for rejecting calls for regulation. However, the main study used to support this claim of economic benefit has been widely criticised (see a useful recent summary here, pages 22-23) and so there is every reason to support Les’s call for an updated and independent study.

Les’s petition can be signed online here (closing date 18 July 2017).

 

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27 Responses to “New petition calling for study on economic impact of driven grouse shooting”


  1. 3 Les Wallace
    June 7, 2017 at 1:26 pm

    Thanks for this, I know for a fact that an animal welfare charity was also thinking of starting a similar petition – there’s definitely a gaping big hole there, too many MSPs amongst others have just been nodding their heads in agreement when the estates have been saying ‘we are great for the rural economy’ – some impartial evidence please if it’s not too much bother? I do hope that at least the petition strengthens resolve to do a full, proper study on grouse moor economics and also takes into account areas which might have been neglected – the negative effects that muirburn may have on freshwater game angling (a topic which has been met with a wall of silence from the so called angling bodies) and the very quickly growing argument for natural flood alleviation work in the uplands, not least the use of beavers and their dams to slow run off. The FC and a Cornish farmer are planning to do flood protection trials with beavers, yet to hear of a ‘sporting estate’ wanting to do that though. Nice to be doing a bit more than just sniping from the sidelines!

  2. June 7, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    The key to a good study is a good brief at the start. It would be all to easy for the Scottish Government to miss out a couple of key factors/issues and it leave us with yet another incomplete study which would be debated for years…..
    How do we input into the study design?

    • June 7, 2017 at 1:33 pm

      We are aware that a number of senior civil servants subscribe to this blog, so if you’ve got any thoughts on study design please add a comment and you never know, they might just get accepted….

      • June 7, 2017 at 11:32 pm

        We know that in order to maximise their intensive grouse farm, most estates pay less than lip service to the muirburn code. If they followed the code to the letter, would they be able to be as intensive.

        As its a financial analysis, how are they going to ascribe a fair value to the various environmental costs?
        What is the cost of a missing hen harrier? They shouldnt overlook the costs associated with raise in tick population induced by their monoculture.

        • June 10, 2017 at 9:21 am

          The investigation is into “large shooting estates” so it does include lowland pheasant and wildfowling as well. Perhaps the we should construct a generic environmental impact assessment then go on to consider the costs of the impacts?

      • 9 AlanTwo
        June 10, 2017 at 10:12 am

        For me, the most important thing is not to take ‘evidence’ or opinion from the shooting lobby at face value – it all needs thorough and independent checking. You only have to read the two existing PACEC reports into the economic and environmental impacts of gamebird shooting – they’re little more than propaganda for the shooting fraternity. More specifically, one should never rely on surveys or questionnaires completed by the shooters and landowners themselves. RPUK is full of well-documented examples of the unreliability of statements and assertions made by these groups.
        It would be a tragedy if any new report turned into just another mouthpiece for the shooters’ PR machine.

  3. 10 Carole
    June 7, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    Excellent, Les. Thanks. Signed and passed on information to like-minded friends.

  4. 11 Carole
    June 7, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    Another thought. The air pollution from muirburn and the toxic lead from shot.

  5. 14 Mixer
    June 7, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    I can’t help wondering where a lot of the profits end up as many grouse estates (particularly in England) are owned either by foreign nationals or in off-shore trusts. Do profits stay in this country and all the relevant taxes are duly paid or is it creamed off abroad and has no further benefit to the domestic rural economy? Obviously gamekeepers are salaried and provided with housing and there are some positive knock on effects but a study like this should bring all that out. Even estates owned by British citizens aren’t necessarily investing more than the bare minimum in the local area. And of course they’ll be claiming public agri-environmental subsidies to pay for environmental improvements – and do these actually happen? Who knows..

    Another idea would be to compare the use of local businesses such as accommodation, pubs & restaurants, support services to the use by those enjoying Wildlife tourism. Most of the people I know will factor some sort of wildlife goal into their holidays and will spend money trying to achieve it. They use B&Bs and pub restaurants as well. They walk the hills and see the wildlife and then tell their friends about it or the lack of it. And so on. If grouse shooting didn’t have the choke-hold on some areas wildlife tourism could be booming and with 000’s of visitors rather than dozens spending their money.

    I’ll definitely be signing the petition and hopefully we might get one in England soon too.

  6. 15 Chris Roberts
    June 7, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    Well done Les, I have signed without hesitation.

  7. 16 Doug Malpus
    June 7, 2017 at 3:00 pm

    Let us hope that Les’ petition results in a study to show the real dangers and costs of grouse shooting and other shooting types. I’ve signed!
    I am sure that costs and dangers outweigh economic benefits except for the owner/organisers who boost their offshore accounts. Like hunting with dogs it needs to be confined to history and stay there.
    Doug

  8. 17 Peter Shearer
    June 7, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    Good work Les-signed.

  9. 19 Merlin
    June 7, 2017 at 7:53 pm

    Well done Les, good luck

    Here’s a few points worth noting especially in light of recent political arguments and blame games over Police numbers. The following was published in 2014 on the OpendemrcracyUK website however I believe the figures are still relevant as I recall Cameron recently quashed any further rises to the gun licenses.

    “Four senior Tory backbenchers – Geoffrey Clifton Brown, Sir Jim Paice, Graham Brady and Karl McCartney – recently enjoyed a day’s free shooting and hospitality (worth £800 per head) on the Catton Hall estate in Derbyshire as guests of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation.
    The four were part of a lobbying campaign that successfully argued that gun license fees should remain at £50 (and £40 for the five-yearly renewal), a figure that’s held for well over a decade. According to the Association of Chief Police Constables (ACPO) this comes nowhere near the estimated £200 per licence that it costs the police to operate the licensing system and make home security checks.
    It scarcely seems plausible that the shooting fraternity cannot afford to pay more for their gun licences, especially as more and more people appear to be taking up shooting and licence holders are buying more and more guns. The number of firearm licences on issue in England and Wales increased by 20 per cent between 2002 and 2012, while the number of weapons covered by current firearm and shotgun licences (465,000 firearms and 1,336,700 shotguns) is one of the highest totals since the statistics have been nationally collated.
    ACPO calculates that firearms licensing costs policing around £19 million per year. At a time when frontline policing services have faced up to 25 per cent cuts”
    So there you have it, each shooting guest to a grouse farm who hails from the UK has already cost the Police/UK tax payer approximately £150 in subsidies on their gun license to start with, Grouse farming must be the most heavily subsidised industry in the UK at present

    • 20 Carole
      June 10, 2017 at 12:20 pm

      Thankfully, Karl McCartney lost his seat this week to Karen Lee (Labour) and Sir Jim Paice didn’t stand in 2015. But we still have Clifton-Brown (Cotswolds) and Brady (Altrincham). I am being too optimistic to think the tide is gradually turning?

  10. 22 Macrude.
    June 7, 2017 at 8:11 pm

    Signed with pleasure. Well done Les.

  11. 23 Iain Gibson
    June 8, 2017 at 12:07 am

    I’m more than happy to sign Les’s petition, but we must be on guard to ensure no whitewash is attempted by the grouse moor owners (or more precisely their solicitors). They have already shown themselves to be masters of obfuscation, and I wouldn’t anticipate them coming clean on their preciously secret financial affairs. A deep and thorough examination should reveal the shocking truth about the true financial rewards currently being exploited by grouse moor owners throughout the UK, and the well hidden fact that only a very small proportion of the real profit makes its way into the local economy, through creative accounting. The complicated redirection of profits offshore will require some very intensive investigations. Tax avoidance is a very real cost.

  12. June 8, 2017 at 11:30 pm

    Surely if they were genuine about their claims, the grouse shooting industry & their friends would be delighted by the idea of an ‘official’ enquiry supporting their claims and back it to the hilt. Somehow, though, I can’t see this happening.

    • 25 Les Wallace
      June 9, 2017 at 2:41 pm

      Exactly, I haven’t yet seen any signatures (there’s a list on the petition page) from anybody I know that supports grouse shooting – no Bert Burnets, Andy Richardsons, Tim Baynes, Andrew Gilruths, David Holdens etc. I will be contacting various groups soon to ask why they aren’t supporting the petition if they are so sure their sport is a boon to rural communities. Surely if it wasn’t they’d want to know too, that they weren’t unwittingly compromising flood alleviation work to stop farms, businesses and homes getting flooded or holding back proper ecotourism that would mean far more people could get something out of visiting the uplands than they do currently. They must not know about it or maybe they are just shy.

  13. 26 STEPHEN BROWN
    July 21, 2017 at 10:48 am

    FYI reply received from NE. Stephen Brown

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPad

    Begin forwarded message:

    On Friday, July 21, 2017, 09:34, Enquiries (NE) wrote:

    Many thanks for getting touch; In the case that prompted your enquiry I can confirm that a consent was issued for the use of gas guns to deal with a persistent problem of ravens attacking young lambs. We have contacted the estate who confirmed that although set up the guns have not been used this year. We have asked the Estate to remove them as the consent has now expired.

    You are right that the use of gas guns in the Peak District within the Protected Site (SSSI) could require Natural England’s consent depending on the specific species notified for that site. As a general rule consent is likely to be required where the following ‘operations requiring Natural England’s consent’ are listed in the notification papers:

        Erection of permanent or temporary structures     Recreational or other activities likely to damage features of biological interest     Game management and hunting practice and changes in game management and hunting practice

    The use of gas guns within, or immediately adjacent to Protected Sites, notified for their importance for birds requires careful consideration during sensitive periods, for example during the breeding season or where roosting birds are present. Where protected sites form part of the Natura 2000 network a Habitats Regulation Assessment is completed.

    In the Peak District consent for gas guns limits use to when they are required, on a reactionary, rather than precautionary approach to deter large groups of juvenile ravens from predating on lambs. Their use is restricted to defined areas and use controlled within those areas to minimise the impact on the notified features. Such restrictions include numbers of gas guns to be used, time which they can be used, buffer zones around nest sites and regular third party monitoring (by the Birds of Prey Initiative for example). The timing of deployment is also restricted to ensure breeding ravens are not disturbed.

    Natural England is committed to working with land owners to seek solutions that can both deliver the land owners objectives whilst at the same time protecting the important wildlife on  the protected site.

    Jim Natural England Enquiries Team

  14. 27 STEPHEN BROWN
    July 21, 2017 at 11:36 am

    Do you want to review my reply to NE? No doubt you will recognise some of themes from your own blog. Stephen

    Jim, I would have to say my initial reaction to your reply is that it is a sop to owners of grouse moors some members of which are known to be involved in the criminal persecution of raptors north and south of the border. Frankly I am shocked and disgusted the NE would even consider licensing a gas gun in such a sensitive area. Given there is overwhelming evidence from across the country of raptor persecution I would have thought that NE would have been much more circumspect about granting such licenses and alert to the suspicion that these guns are in fact used to deter certain raptor species from settling in habitat that would otherwise be suitable but for the lands use as a shooting moor and the vested interests prevent raptor colonisation.  Given the evidence sited in the application can you confirm what steps you took to verify this evidence of raven predation on young lambs and if found robust what alternative strategies were considered before granting the license? Also if the evidence was sufficiently robust and no suitable alternative strategies presented themselves how was your decision to grant the licence balanced with your duty to protect Schedule 1 birds? Your own ‘school boy project’ standard flow chart requires you to consider this in considering such an application and I am requesting details of how you considered that you discharged this obligation correctly. Further, as the Broomhead Estate is part of the Peak Disrict Bird of Prey Initiaive can you confirm how many raptor species successfully bred on this moor last year and this year? Whilst it may be too early to confirm data from 2017 I want you to confirm that you ill forward the data on to me as soon as it becomes available. I assume that data for 2016 is already available to send to me. Finally, I understand that PDBoPI has failed to reach its targets but was set to continue with ‘renewed commitment’ and ‘new vigour and energy’. Can you given me some details as to how this new commitment and this this vigour and energy has manifest itself?

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPad

    On Friday, July 21, 2017, 10:48, STEPHEN BROWN wrote:

    FYI reply received from NE. Stephen Brown

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPad

    Begin forwarded message:

    On Friday, July 21, 2017, 09:34, Enquiries (NE) wrote:

    Many thanks for getting touch; In the case that prompted your enquiry I can confirm that a consent was issued for the use of gas guns to deal with a persistent problem of ravens attacking young lambs. We have contacted the estate who confirmed that although set up the guns have not been used this year. We have asked the Estate to remove them as the consent has now expired.

    You are right that the use of gas guns in the Peak District within the Protected Site (SSSI) could require Natural England’s consent depending on the specific species notified for that site. As a general rule consent is likely to be required where the following ‘operations requiring Natural England’s consent’ are listed in the notification papers:

        Erection of permanent or temporary structures     Recreational or other activities likely to damage features of biological interest     Game management and hunting practice and changes in game management and hunting practice

    The use of gas guns within, or immediately adjacent to Protected Sites, notified for their importance for birds requires careful consideration during sensitive periods, for example during the breeding season or where roosting birds are present. Where protected sites form part of the Natura 2000 network a Habitats Regulation Assessment is completed.

    In the Peak District consent for gas guns limits use to when they are required, on a reactionary, rather than precautionary approach to deter large groups of juvenile ravens from predating on lambs. Their use is restricted to defined areas and use controlled within those areas to minimise the impact on the notified features. Such restrictions include numbers of gas guns to be used, time which they can be used, buffer zones around nest sites and regular third party monitoring (by the Birds of Prey Initiative for example). The timing of deployment is also restricted to ensure breeding ravens are not disturbed.

    Natural England is committed to working with land owners to seek solutions that can both deliver the land owners objectives whilst at the same time protecting the important wildlife on  the protected site.

    Jim Natural England Enquiries Team


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