02
Dec
17

SNP adopts policy to support licensing of driven grouse shooting estates

RSPB press release:

RSPB Scotland welcomes official SNP policy support for licensing shooting estates

Motion approved at National Council

A landmark decision by Scottish National Party (SNP) delegates to adopt officially a policy supporting licensing of driven grouse shooting estates has been welcomed by RSPB Scotland.

At today’s (Saturday December 2nd 2017) National Council in Perth, SNP activists voted in support of a resolution calling for shooting estate licensing to be introduced in Scotland, making it certified party policy to support licensing for driven grouse estates.

The move adds considerable momentum to the campaign for shooting estate licensing, backed by RSPB Scotland.

The Scottish Government have recently set up an expert group to consider issues around grouse moors, including licensing.

Ian Thomson from RSPB Scotland said: “RSPB Scotland commends the National Council of the SNP for approving this resolution, committing the party to the licensing of driven grouse shooting.

It has become increasingly clear that self-regulation by the gamebird shooting industry has failed, with frequent incidents of illegal killing of protected birds of prey, unsustainable culls of mountain hares and repeated damage to vulnerable peatland habitats.

While we have welcomed steps taken by successive Scottish Governments to bear down on wildlife crime, it is evident that the increasingly intensive management of some areas, solely aimed at producing ever-larger grouse bags, flies in the face of public opinion and that better regulation of this industry, to ensure legal, sustainable management of our uplands, is long overdue.”

Jennifer Dunn, a member of the SNP’s National Council, who proposed the motion said: “I’m delighted that fellow delegates voted in favour of shooting estate licensing. Raptor persecution is a huge issue that many, many people care deeply about.

Although the conference floor cannot dictate policy to the Government, I’m hopeful that Ministers will listen to party activists and introduce tough new policies to combat wildlife crime.”

ENDS

[Photo: a landscape of intensively managed driven grouse moors in Scotland. Photo by Ruth Tingay]

Here’s the text of the motion:

Council notes with concern that wildlife crime, particularly raptor persecution, continues to damage Scotland’s reputation, natural heritage and tourism industry. Council further notes that a recent report by Scottish Natural Heritage found that a third of satellite tagged golden eagles had disappeared in suspicious circumstances in and around grouse moors. Council therefore:

• Welcomes the response from the Cabinet Secretary for Environment to this report, including plans to set up an expert group to look at managing grouse moors

• Commends the Scottish Parliament’s Environment Committee for scrutiny of this issue and recommending such a study

• Calls on responsible land managers and their representative bodies to engage with this process and encourage improved compliance with the law

• Supports the establishment of a licensing system for driven grouse estates, in order to help to prevent wildlife crimes.

What brilliant news!

The pressure continues to mount on the previously untouchable driven grouse shooting industry, and there is now real momentum for change, in Scotland at least, what with this agreed resolution and the recently-established grouse moor management review group, tasked with advising the Scottish Government on what will inevitably be the introduction of a grouse moor licensing scheme.

Well done Jennifer Dunn for getting this motion onto the National Council’s agenda and well done to each and every person who has helped draw public and political attention to the filthy, criminal activities of the driven grouse shooting industry.

It’s been a long time coming but it feels like the balance has finally tipped in our favour.

UPDATE 4 December 2017: Grouse shooting industry’s histrionics over proposed estate licensing (here)

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53 Responses to “SNP adopts policy to support licensing of driven grouse shooting estates”


  1. 1 Peter Shearer
    December 2, 2017 at 9:02 pm

    Great news and well done to everyone who has helped this come about.

  2. 3 Brian,
    December 2, 2017 at 9:04 pm

    This is a Great Statement of Intent from SNP,I applaud you,well done to everyone who as pushed for this.This is another Great step forward to getting the driven grouse shooting Banished to the History Books.

  3. 4 Chris Batchelor
    December 2, 2017 at 9:06 pm

    Great news. Tighten the noose one notch at a time. (Mixed metaphor but excusable)

  4. 5 Doug Malpus
    December 2, 2017 at 9:17 pm

    I do hope they can achieve some control with licensing of these archaic dens of iniquity on our moors and woodlands.

    Doug

  5. 6 Alan
    December 2, 2017 at 9:17 pm

    Well done everyone – but especially RPUK, for keeping up the pressure with evidence and science (and increasingly with pithy humour – a powerful weapon against illegitimate power.) It’s really heartening that spin and lies are in retreat, at any rate here and on this issue.

  6. 7 George M
    December 2, 2017 at 9:33 pm

    Well done all involved. The light becomes that little bit brighter.

  7. December 2, 2017 at 10:06 pm

    Obviously a step in the right direction – and a big step at that. We can be optimistic, but it is only the beginning.

  8. December 2, 2017 at 10:11 pm

    Good news indeed…there will now be a short lull in the dark side’s press statements, followed by a virulent attack on RSPB, RPUK and the SNP around christmas time, when they hope everyone has forgotten about this….but the body of evidence continues to grow and its getting easier for the public to spot the lies and self-serving nonsense they come out with…If only SNP would get rid of the shooting lobby apologists within its ranks and the other mainstream parties [not counting the Greens who seem well on side] would also take up this issue.

  9. 10 Paul V Irving
    December 2, 2017 at 10:30 pm

    great news tinged here in England with a little envious green because as long as we have terrible tory government ( and All TORY gov’t is TERRIBLE)in Westminster we won’t get this sort of thing in England

  10. 11 Richard Andrews
    December 2, 2017 at 10:31 pm

    Long way to go. Devil will be in the detail. It has to be results based. Remember fox hunting is banned on paper…..

    • 12 BSA
      December 2, 2017 at 11:04 pm

      The SNP National Council also today passed a proposal to close the loopholes in the current fox hunting legislation. Only one vote against. Very close to an effective ban.

    • 13 Mike Haden
      December 3, 2017 at 10:49 am

      If done right, whereby part of the license is to permit the RSBP et al to place cameras without the landowner knowledge and use the evidence then this will be a massive step. Since if the professional conservationists -sorry I mean gamekeepers -think the the hills have eyes, they may temper their conservation methods.

      • 14 Iain Gibson
        December 3, 2017 at 11:03 am

        Mike, I’m afraid their wiliness knows no bounds. For this and lots of other good reasons, the only satisfactory outcome will be when we get a complete ban on grouse shooting. Surely the day has come when all shooting and killing of wildlife for pleasure needs to be halted? It’s a logical step in the direction of civilisation. If we continue to go about it piecemeal, current generations will be dead and gone by the time it happens.

  11. December 2, 2017 at 10:45 pm

    Fantastic news . Well done to everyone who has pushed for this huge step in the right direction. Congratulations from all your supporters down here in the South West of England.

  12. 16 Andy MacNicol
    December 2, 2017 at 11:06 pm

    While I think this is a step in the right direction, I think that the RSPB should be put under some scrutiny too. They must also bear some responsibility for bird deaths through excessive monitoring and ringing. Figures of course would be hard to come by as they will take great pains to ensure their revenue stream is protected by covering up any deaths from these actions. They own vast tracts of land, have many millions in funds at their disposal and seem to be accountable to nobody except themselves. Where birds are concerned, they are the ultimate authority.
    It’s time for some honest accountability.

    • 17 kelvin thomson
      December 3, 2017 at 10:30 am

      All raptor deaths are regrettable but to suggest that monitoring/ringing (legal, no mal-intent) is as much to blame as persecution (illegal, with intent) is stretching your argument!

    • December 3, 2017 at 11:56 am

      Andy, can you supply some evidence for statements regarding the RSPB please? You do realise that the whole point of monitoring and ringing is to help our understanding of what birds need? You do realise that protocols for ringing and monitoring have been devised and refined to ensure that they impact as little as possible on the birds, otherwise the results are useless? They do own a lot of land – but not quite as much as “pension funds” and only a little more than The Duke of Buccleuch & Queensberry. Accountability? Being a charity, they are fully accountable to the Charities Commission and, because of the support they recive from the public, they come under especially keen scrutiny. Please can you provide some examples of “honest accountability” from a shooting estate?

    • 19 J .Coogan
      December 3, 2017 at 12:24 pm

      What a ridiculous statement especially at this time when they and RPUK should be congratulated .Having a pop at RSPB over the hackneyed old ( totally unproven) grouse shooting fiction, me thinks you might have a penchant for the smell of tweed and cordite.
      As for honest accountability, pot and kettle come immediately to mind.

    • December 3, 2017 at 12:43 pm

      Andy,

      I could certainly take issue with the RSPB on certain topics, and even then it would be on the administrative side, but no, I can see no substance at all to your argument for bird deaths as a result of monitoring and ringing.

    • 21 Simon Tucker
      December 3, 2017 at 12:47 pm

      I was going to reply to this but BTO guidelines require me to be polite on social media.

    • 22 Bob Philpott
      December 3, 2017 at 7:56 pm

      Andy. I think you are totally unaware of the rules and regulations regarding ringing. The RSPB does not supervise bird monitoring and ringing schemes. That is the responsibility of the BTO. The RSPB may make use of such data but if and when their staff and volunteers undertake such work it will be under licence from the BTO.

      The ultimate authority where birds are concerned is the law which we all have to abide by, whether that be the RSPB, me or you. To make such statements without understanding how the process works doesnt help in any way, whichever side of this fence you are positioned.

  13. 23 Les Wallace
    December 2, 2017 at 11:13 pm

    Bloody good result for everyone who has pushed for this! I note with great pleasure that Jennifer Dunn stressed raptor persecution, but also damage to the country’s reputation, natural heritage and tourism. DGS is doing an awful lot of damage and that’s finally sinking in. Wonder how Fergus is feeling?

  14. 24 Iain Gibson
    December 3, 2017 at 12:15 am

    It seems I’m the only person depressed by this news, which I see as a nail in the coffin of banning grouse shooting. I can now see years of wrangling in a vain attempt to reach agreement on the terms of such a licence, ending in an unsatisfactory arrangement which might look good on statute, but will be almost impossible to police and enforce. Apart from the grouse shooters, the only people likely to benefit are their expensive lawyers. We already have supposedly strict legislation protecting Hen Harriers and other raptors, but what notice do the criminal gamekeepers pay to that? Is it likely to be any more effective than the ‘soft’ restrictions of the General Licence currently imposed upon estates where wildlife crimes have been reported? My feeling is that persecution will continue unabated, albeit in even greater secrecy, and the “brood management scheme” extended to Scottish grouse moors. From then on the politicians will regard the problem as solved, or at least dealt with, and any continuing campaign to ban driven grouse shooting will be abjectly ignored. I hope I’m wrong, but at best I can only imagine that bad practices will continue, perhaps with a slight but insignificant concession made to the number of harriers being killed. Even that seems hopelessly optimistic. All this stems from the RSPB not having the determination or the courage to tackle the real issue head-on, and going for a libertarian compromise instead. As far as I’m concerned, this is a step in the wrong direction, possibly a case of shooting ourselves in the foot.

    • 25 crypticmirror
      December 3, 2017 at 4:09 am

      We were never going to get driven grouse shooting banned all in one go, its roots go too deep into the establishment and into the shortbread tin version of Scottish tourism, it was always to be a multi stage thing. And, yes, it was always going be fought tooth and nail by that establishment. It was always going to need a regulatory stage, in order to give the establishment room to fail. It is only the end if the shooters suddenly turn around and be law abiding, left wing, environmentalists who eschew industry practices of over a century. What are the odds on that happening? No, they will keep on doing the same thing, and the rest of us will keep on gathering evidence of those abuses, and we’ll be able to show that just as self regulation failed, so has government regulation failed, and the only other option to protect the environment and the wildlife is…ban it.

    • 26 Jo
      December 3, 2017 at 7:50 am

      You’re not Ian ……. I am frantically trying to see the glass as half full. Licencing will depend upon complete and open honesty on all sides ……. and, quite frankly, I don’t see that happening.

      • December 3, 2017 at 11:22 am

        1. There is no law of trespass in Scotland. Estates post details of where shooting is taking place at public access points so we can steer safely away when hill walking. But that also means people and regulators can observe actual practice without permission.

        2. Not everyone in grouse shooting areas support all the activities of the shooting estates, this means lots of eyes and ears to violations of practice. The devil will be what activities are regulated. I recall visiting Glen Clova and seeing the sides of the glen scarred with a whole bunch of newly driven bulldozed tracks up to the hill tops. They stood out as scars in the landscape, they induce erosion as they become stream beds draining the bogs. This can be regulated for eg.

        3. The estates have brought this on themselves, raptors are fully protected and wildlife crime is prosecuted in Scotland but satellite tagged raptors continue to disappear, their tags never found or returned over the same areas. Licensing can include a minimum number of raptor deaths in a given area or license to shoot is removed. Sat tagged birds should not just disappear, their tags silenced. IF this happens, license to shoot revoked. I trust the SNP and Greens in Holyrood to get this right. Scottish Labour and the Wee FibDems should also get behind it with only the Tories against. SNP + Green alone are a majority. Greens will push the SNP over this, why we elected them in such numbers last time.

    • 28 kelvin thomson
      December 3, 2017 at 10:37 am

      You are right to take this with a pinch of salt, this is a step along the road, there is a long way to go but I think the direction of travel is set!

  15. 29 frank hopkin
    December 3, 2017 at 12:30 am

    I agree with Ian,
    although I wish I didn’t

    • 31 Loki
      December 3, 2017 at 1:51 am

      Erm, actually, sorry – after reading Iain’s post – I have to agree. It’s difficult to prove what these bastards are up to at the best of times so trying to get the evidence to revoke a licence will be the usual challenge. Especially when the Crown Offie aren’t even permitting video surveillance.

      • 32 Dave Angel
        December 3, 2017 at 11:09 am

        Regarding video evidence, if you make it a condition of the licence that the landowner is deemed to have consented to the use of covert surveillance for the purpose of detecting wildlife crime, then that puts the onus on the licence holder. No landowner’s consent = no licence.

        • 33 Iain Gibson
          December 3, 2017 at 11:26 am

          That’s all very well Dave, but do you really imagine that will happen? The game shooting industry will be fighting this licensing proposal tooth and nail, and they’ll have all the best lawyers on their side. At present the law is firmly on their side regarding the use of surveillance cameras.

          • 34 dave angel
            December 3, 2017 at 12:05 pm

            If Holyrood passes legislation to that effect then yes it will happen.

            As for them having all the best lawyers on their side, that’s a matter of opinion.

            I would say though that the shooting industry’s policy of fighting (and funding) every persecution case every inch of the way has maybe just tipped the balance in favour of tighter regulation. So those failed prosecution cases may turn out to have been a Pyrrhic victory for them. Here’s hoping.

            • December 3, 2017 at 12:31 pm

              I wish to refer my honourable friend to the SNP govt’s dogged legal defence of minimum alcohol pricing when sued by the Scotch Malt Whisky Association. It delayed the legislation by over 18months. Yet it was defended and successfully.

              The Will of Parliament, in this case Holyrood will be done. Beefed up and funded wildlife crime went through. Police Scotland have a dedicated and specialist Wildlife Crime task force. They didn’t like that either but have had to lump it. They won’t like it when the loopholes in the fox hunting legislation up here are closed either.

              The Scots Tories may be the second biggest party at Holyrood but SNP + Green = Absolute Majority. Also that is the absolute high water of Tory support in Scotland, they aren’t going to get any more or find any friends to go into coalition with. So a Scottish Tory govt is in no danger of happening within an actual generation or two, post Independence.

              • 36 Les Wallace
                December 3, 2017 at 11:48 pm

                Plus there’s also the possibility that the more savvy conservative politicians realise that DGS is becoming more and more like fox hunting, some of your traditional supporters might be as keen/fanatical as ever, but for everyone else it’s becoming a very bad smell indeed – the fact that the licensing of shooting estates came up and was voted for by SNP delegates was very telling. Tory MSP/MPs in seats not in the traditional DGS areas, especially if they are marginal, might feel it more prudent to promote reform and restriction of shooting estates rather than the condescending unadulterated pro bullshite they’ve been subjecting us to for decades. Even in DGS areas it may not be such a given that being anti is a bad move politically, all the ban DGS petitions got more signatures where there was DGS. Surely people living there are realising there’s more to life than getting a bit of money for Xmas if you’re lucky enough to get a couple of days beating? How badly is muir burn screwing up salmon and trout fishing, rank and file anglers won’t be too happy when they realise their reps have been quietly sweeping that question under the carpet and the public wouldn’t be impressed that DGS could be directly affecting another industry. When, not if, an elected conservative politician publicly breaks ranks on Scottish ‘sporting’ estates then that will be another milestone, there’s no future in the alternative.

  16. 37 Greer Hart, senior.
    December 3, 2017 at 5:27 am

    After years of pessimism on this subject and others relating to the persecution of wildlife, I truly feel at home reading through the excellent comments and observations on the issue of driven grouse shooting. My reading through the newspapers every day, matters relating to the Crown Office, especially catch my cynical eye. There have been a spate of fumbled cases relating to the punishment of vicious criminals, who have been given short sentences for the vile offences they have committed. Also, cases of people imprisoned for long terms, for crimes they could not have committed. Our society is greatly uneasy over all things judicial. Pertinent to the work of Raptor Persecution Scotland, how can we expect to see meaningful sentencing for those who have flouted the law dealing with Birds of Prey persecution, when so many dangerous thugs and malcontents, can walk away with unpaid community work for so many hours, with no custodial sentences having been awarded? How can we match the overweening wealthy who support blood sports? Anyway, the SNP is to be congratulated, and Jennifer Dunn highly commended, for bringing this subject to the fore. Labour, not so long ago, came aboard wildlife conservation and animal welfare causes, and pledged to support such work. Even some Tories have expressed unease over their party being the blood sports champion. When Theresa May wanted to bring back fox hunting after the last General Election, and with the very recent Independent newspaper scare that EU animal welfare legislation would not be transferred to the UK, the British public erupted and the Tories were shocked at the venom shown. That revealed that the UK public have become more aware of the world wide destruction of the environment and wildlife, and despise the ill-treatment of domestic animals. This should give us hope now that we can look forward to the final onslaughts on the vile misuse of our countryside, by people who have carried hunting to an unacceptable excess. We should all be contacting any MSP who supports the cause for which we stand, and thereby give them the confidence to keep that support going.

  17. December 3, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    An excellent step in the right direction.
    The doubters should remember that since raptors have been legally protected, we have had a massive resurgence in numbers of large raptors in the UK with several species reintroduced & many others thriving.
    Yes, there is still this huge problem of extermination on Grouse moors & some lowland shoots but the situation is massively improved elsewhere since the days when I started out in raptor conservation / protection in the 1970’s.

    Public opininion is more & more on our side & yes it will probably take another generation until the problem is solved, but I’m very happy with what we’ve achieved in the last 50 + years.

    I am now able to observe thriving populations of Goshawk, Honey Buzzard, Marsh Harrier, Peregrine, Red Kite, Osprey , Raven [+ otter & polecat ] in locations within a few miles of home where I saw none in the 1960’s.

    I have a word of caution though;
    Pushing for a ban on all hunting & shooting [ & fishing if the rationale is followed ] is misguided since it alienates millions of hunters & shooters who use sustainable methods & who do not persecute raptors & other scarce predators.
    Yes, there is still much to done on regulation of firearms, non toxic shot etc.& bans on snaring & indescriminate trapping.
    It has to be accepted that we have an incomplete native predator population in the UK – no wolf, bear, lynx,eagle owl etc so the smaller generalist predators [ such as foxes & badgers ] & herbivores such as deer [ & omnivores such as grey squirrels which are introduced & should in any case be removed ] are at much higher levels than in more balanced ecosystems.

    The modern world will I fear never accept reintroduction of some of these predators & the over – populated human – dominated environment will not support them so regulated, humane culling will continue to be necessary.

    Like it or not this is the reality, but I accept that some will never accept that hunting & killing, even for food, by humans, is ever acceptable on moral grounds.

    I personally am not one of them but, along with many others, I have spent nearly 50 years working to conserve & expand raptor populations in the UK & elsewhere.

    All those who have done this can justifiably be proud of their achievements which is not something that can be said for driven grouse moor people or hound – following fox hunters !

    Keep up the pressure !

    • 39 AlanTwo
      December 3, 2017 at 5:12 pm

      SB – I usually really like your posts, and I agree with much of what you say here – but with a couple of exceptions! I should preface my remarks by saying that my experience is in lowland England, dominated by pheasant and partridge shooting, rather than grouse moors.
      Very few shooters in my part of the world use sustainable methods – the industry relies on the release of tens of millions of captive-reared birds each year. It is highly likely that these have a huge, and largely detrimental, impact on native wildlife that now has to share habitats and food sources with them.
      Less than half (about 35 – 40%) of the birds released are shot. Most of the rest end up as prey or carrion for generalist predators – that’s several tens of thousands of tonnes of extra ‘meat’ provided every year. This is probably much more relevant today than ‘mesopredator release’ – that’s just a convenient, sciencey-sounding line for the pro-shooting lobby to trot out. Additionally, the majority of the thousands of tonnes of grain put out each year to feed pheasants is eaten by rats, pigeons and corvids. Please don’t tell me that shooting and gamekeeping maintain balanced ecosystems!
      Most shooters are not personally involved in raptor persecution, but they are part of an activity that does so as a matter of routine. Very few shooters question or challenge the murkier side of their pastime – on the contrary, most are four-square behind their keepers. In the same way, most hunt followers do not participate in the staged dog-fight that is the conclusion of many fox hunts – but they know it goes on, and they do nothing to stop it.
      Virtually no-one shoots game for food these days – they shoot for recreation. Hannibal Lecter ate his victims, but it would be totally disingenuous to excuse his actions on the grounds that he killed ‘for the pot’ or to ‘put food on the table’.

      I really don’t see much for the shooting brigade to feel proud of. But I agree that this decision is an excellent step forward, and that we should all keep up the pressure!

    • 40 Iain Gibson
      December 3, 2017 at 6:12 pm

      sennen, I’ve no idea what part of the UK you’re in, but I am extremely surprised by your statement, that “the situation is massively improved elsewhere since the days when [you] started out in raptor conservation / protection in the 1970’s.” I also developed an interest in raptors in the (early) 1970s, in SW Scotland, and can honestly state that there has been very little change in persecution levels since then, and that it has possibly become even worse. Either that or I’m very much more aware of it nowadays. Some of the species you say have “massively improved” are virtually unknown to me, such as Goshawk, Honey Buzzard and Red Kite, and Marsh Harrier is a scarce passage migrant. So I’m guessing you’re somewhere “down south.” I don’t intend to go into great detail, because I’ve done so previously on this blog, but the reasons for the great increase in Buzzards (numbers and range) and Kestrel during the end of the 20th century was almost entirely due to a massive vole plague in northern Britain which persisted in many areas from 1985 through to 2005. Despite rumours to the contrary, it was not exclusively down to a great conservation success story, as we are told, without explanation, in RSPB and other publications. Few birdwatchers seem to have noticed that in most of Scotland at least, Buzzards and Kestrels have declined since the vole plague ended by approximately 80% and 90% respectively. Yet gamekeepers in particular, throughout the UK, are still complaining that there is a Buzzard “plague”! They use this false ‘fact’ to justify demanding the right to cull, and the “You Forgot the Birds” game-shooting financed organisation spreads scare stories about huge numbers of raptors killing all our songbirds. The anti-raptor hysteria was nowhere like this in the 1970s, as far as I can remember.

  18. 41 Northern Diver
    December 3, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    I agree with some that licensing will not guarantee predator persecution will cease. It’s difficult to police and the perpetrators may become even more circumspect. But at least licensing should stop bulldozing of new tracks and reduce burning and damage to peat. Those things cannot be carried out surreptitiously and the evidence is clear to see. The very introduction of licensing will shine a spotlight on these estates which they will hate. For instance, hopefully it will show land ownership and if land is owned in offshore shell companies they should not get a licence (or subsidies). Lots of possibilities, I think, to ensure more transparency in this grubby industry. Let’s be optimistic and get it to work as well as possible. It will be a long process.

    • 42 Iain Gibson
      December 3, 2017 at 2:56 pm

      Northern Diver, I think it’s optimistic to expect moorland management to be significantly affected by such licensing regulations, but it would be a step in the right direction were that to happen. We already have a Moorland Code which covers burning of heather and prohibits burning of blanket bog, but in my experience at least, grouse moor managers (and hill sheep farmers) pay scant attention, and are generally not taken to task by the authorities. Will a licensing system change that, I wonder? To be honest, if these measures were introduced I don’t think grouse shooting would be considered viable enough to continue anyway, but without a national plan for what to do next, the moors might end up being overgrazed, planted with forestry, or simply neglected. The only solution I can imagine being practical, for conservation and enhancement of moorland biodiversity, would be to take the moors into public ownership and carry out carefully planned conservation management. We need to think radical.

      • December 5, 2017 at 1:48 pm

        ‘The only solution I can imagine being practical, for conservation and enhancement of moorland biodiversity, would be to take the moors into public ownership and carry out carefully planned conservation management.’
        In 2006 in NW Mull 670 hectares of forest were bought by the community. There were great plans of ‘changing to largely broadleaved woodlands’ blah, blah, blah. Within 3 years the plans changed into an immediate clear fell with restocking of 100% commercial conifers. It took some serious campaigning to stop them spraying with neonics, which appear to have succeeded. Community buy out of forests right now are privatisation through the back door with timber companies striping the assets.
        This same charitable company (NWMCWC) is now trying to buy Ulva with full backing from the SNP!

    • 44 Lizzybusy
      December 4, 2017 at 2:39 am

      Iain is right in what he says but, in fact, the criminality of many grouse shooting estates is worse than Iain suggests. There are laws already in existence to protect scheduled animals, birds and plants from destruction and nesting birds from disturbance (e.g. from burning, track building or drainage construction). Laws also apply to burning which does not comply with the Code Iain mentioned. In addition, the automatic legal permitted permission for track building on moors was amended in 2014 so land owners now have to check that their local authority will grant permitted permission. Bla, bla, bla. To summarise – there are laws already controlling a lot of this stuff but a licensing system for shooting estates may bring it all under one roof making it easier to monitor. Whether the authorities actually implement the law will be the real test, if licensing is introduced.

      I’m inclined to agree with Iain’s outlook, even if licensing, to the uninitiated, sounds like the next obvious step.

      Iain’s proposed solution sounds amazing! More thoughts like that please!

  19. 46 Grant Morrison
    December 3, 2017 at 3:19 pm

    The country side is for everyone to enjoy and for that it needs to be managed responsibly. If the landowners can’t do it then the government must

  20. 47 Harry Bickerstaff
    December 3, 2017 at 5:45 pm

    Just watch the grouse shooting fraternity turning their guns on the SNP now and remember; they are very willing to tell lies – at the drop of a hat – to further their cause, so we can expect a torrent and a tirade of anti-SNP abuse from them now.

    • 48 dave angel
      December 4, 2017 at 8:52 am

      ‘ they are very willing to tell lies – at the drop of a hat – to further their cause ‘

      Are you referring to the SNP or to the shooting industry?

  21. 49 Mike Haden
    December 3, 2017 at 8:30 pm

    If this is the begining of the end of this land use. In that regulated DGS is economically unavailable, then I am fearful of what will happen. That landowners will not want their assets to rot, they will eye wind farms as a viable land use for their moors. I know at present they (wind farms)don’t cause too much of an issue with raptor deaths but as they increase and are less sensitively situated then the habitat we yearn for may not be a direct result of the demise of DGMs.

    Without a concerted effort to control land use this could end up with the baby being thrown out with the bath water.

  22. December 4, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    Why don’t they make it compulsory for all shotguns to be fitted with a satellite tag? It could be part of the licensing checks,and would link guns in the area with crimes.

  23. 52 Jeff P
    December 4, 2017 at 2:23 pm

    Apropos of nothing, did anyone else see this report about an FOI regarding gun ownership amongst the police and legal profession

    http://www.thenational.scot/news/15698117.Fears_over__gun_culture__within_Scottish_police_force/

    http://petercherbi.blogspot.co.uk/2017/08/silencers-in-court-guns-ammo-rife-in.html


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