Andy Wightman MSP seeks muirburn ban during Coronavirus lockdown

Further to the news that grouse moor burning has continued across Scotland (see here and here) despite calls for restraint and in total defiance of the current public health crisis, Scottish Green’s MSP Andy Wightman is seeking a legislative ban on all muirburn as part of the emergency laws going through the Scottish Parliament today.

[Muirburn, photograph by Ruth Tingay]

The Scottish Greens have published the following press release this afternoon:


The practice of burning moorland to prepare for recreational grouse shooting is continuing in Scotland, despite the coronavirus lockdown.

Witnesses have tweeted pictures of the practice continuing throughout Scotland, even after landowners were told to stop by Scottish Land and Estates on March 25.

In England, one fire got out of control and spread into a one-mile long fire-front, leading to concerns over the pressure this practice can place on the emergency services.

Scottish Green MSP Andy Wightman today sought to include a legislative ban in emergency laws going through the Scottish Parliament.

Commenting, Andy Wightman said: “It is absurd that while the country is told to stay at home, with sporting and cultural events cancelled and businesses compelled to close, some landowners have proceeded to inflict environmental damage on their land in the expectation that a privileged few will still be able to go and shoot birds for a hobby.

There cannot be business as usual for the lairds and lockdown for the rest of us. There is too little scrutiny of grouse moors at the best of times, but damaging the hills during a lockdown and risking putting further pressure on our emergency services is reckless. The practice should end with immediate effect.”


The Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill (Emergency Bill) is being debated in the Scottish Parliament this afternoon and is expected to be passed later this evening.

Here is Andy’s proposed amendment, which if passed would result in a ban on all hill fires, including setting the grouse moors alight, with immediate effect:

10 Responses to “Andy Wightman MSP seeks muirburn ban during Coronavirus lockdown”

  1. 1 Fight for Fairness
    April 1, 2020 at 2:48 pm

    Let’s hope that this gets approved without dissent and that burning of heather to support driven grouse shooting will become a thing of the past.

  2. 2 Stephen Lewis
    April 1, 2020 at 3:38 pm

    Let’s see if the SNP grab this opportunity and support Andy’s timely and entirely reasonable amendment.

  3. 6 Iain Gibson
    April 1, 2020 at 4:07 pm

    It seems to me that grouse moors are being furiously burned to beat the deadline for a possible forthcoming ban. These people are so desperate! Who knows what else the “grouse moor managers” are getting up to, considering current conditions? I strongly suspect, but obviously wouldn’t wish it, that they are going all out to kill Hen Harriers et al during the coming months. Burning damages the ecosystem, pollutes the atmosphere and dramatically reduces feeding opportunities (voles and pipits) for Hen Harriers and other predators. It is also contemptuous in the extreme, to society as a whole, to take advantage of the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, which is devastating human families on much of the planet.

  4. 7 Paul
    April 1, 2020 at 4:41 pm

    Well done that man! Back with a vengeance! Hope this gets through – if only to see the faces on the bell ends in tweed (sorry (not)).

  5. 8 James Homer
    April 1, 2020 at 5:05 pm

    This really needs to be a permanent ban. Great work Andy.

  6. 9 Dougie
    April 1, 2020 at 6:15 pm

    Good on you Andy. One of the few.

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