26
Nov
20

Scottish Government commits to develop immediate licensing scheme for driven grouse shooting

In response to the Werritty Review on grouse moor management, Environment Minister Mairi Gougeon has just made the following statement in Parliament:

STATEMENT

In 2017 the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform commissioned an independent group to look at the environmental impact of grouse moor management. 

The group had a clear remit: to examine the environmental impact of grouse moor management practices such as muirburn, the use of medicated grit and mountain hare culls, and advise on the option of licensing grouse shooting businesses. 

This group was part of a package of measures aimed at tackling the on-going and abhorrent issue of wildlife crime – and in particular, raptor persecution.

The Cabinet Secretary’s decision to form the review group was prompted by the report from NatureScot in May 2017, which found that around a third of satellite-tagged golden eagles in Scotland disappeared in suspicious circumstances, on or around grouse moors.

[Satellite-tagged golden eagle Fred, who disappeared in suspicious circumstances in 2018 from next to a grouse moor just a few miles from the Scottish Parliament. Photo by Ruth Tingay]

This government has stated repeatedly that we intend to bring an end to the illegal killing of raptors and to bring in whatever measures are necessary to achieve this. Addressing wildlife crime remains a key priority both for this Government, and for me personally.

The independent Grouse Moor Management report, also known as the Werritty report, was published in December last year and first of all I would like to put on record my thanks to Professor Werritty, the members of the review group and their advisors, for undertaking this work as well as the broad range of stakeholders who contributed their views and experience. 

Grouse moor management is a complex and controversial issue. It attracts strong views and a great deal of public interest and I don’t for one minute underestimate the challenges faced by the review group.

I hope that we can all agree that their report takes a comprehensive, evidence-led and balanced approach to the key issues surrounding the management of grouse moors in twenty-first century Scotland.

I have given full consideration to the recommendations and findings of the Grouse Moor Management Group alongside the evidence they gave to the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform committee earlier this year.

I have reviewed the findings from the Phase 1 and Phase 2 Scottish Government commissioned research on the socio-economic and biodiversity impacts of grouse moor management.

I have also taken into account the recommendations of the Independent Deer Working Group and the Climate Change Committee report where they relate to relevant activities such as muirburn.

I have considered all of the evidence and views put forward by stakeholders including meetings with, for example, British Association for Shooting and Conservation, the Revive coalition, the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, and the Scottish Wildlife Trust. I want to thank everyone who took the time to share their views with Ministers and with officials. 

Presiding Officer, after taking into account all of this evidence I have reached the conclusion that there is a need for greater oversight of the practices associated with grouse moor management, including muirburn and the culling of mountain hares.

The key recommendation put forward in the Werritty report – is that a ‘licensing scheme be introduced for the shooting of grouse’. This is a recommendation that I accept.

However, while I the understand why the review group also recommended that such a scheme should be introduced if, after five years, ‘there is no marked improvement in the ecological sustainability of grouse moor management’, I believe that the Government needs to act sooner than this and begin developing a licensing scheme now.

As recently published in our phase 2 research, we recognise the contribution that grouse shooting makes to the rural economy. 

And that the majority of those tasked with managing land already follow best practice guidance and care deeply about the countryside and land that they manage.

I cannot, though, ignore the fact that some of the practices associated with grouse moor management, such as muirburn and the use of medicated grit, have the potential to cause serious harm to the environment, if the correct procedures are not followed.

Neither can I ignore the fact that despite our many attempts to address this issue, every year birds of prey continue to be killed or disappear in suspicious circumstances on or around grouse moors.

Since 2007, the Scottish Government has undertaken a range of measures to tackle wildlife crime, including: the introduction of vicarious liability; a poisons disposal scheme and restrictions on licences for those operating on land where it is suspected that wildlife crime has taken place.

The fact that raptor persecution continues in spite of all these measures suggests that, while regulation from within the grouse shooting industry can be an important factor in driving behavioural change, self-regulation alone will not be enough to end the illegal killing of raptors, and further intervention is now required.

Now there are many forms that a licensing scheme could take.

I do not propose to go through them all here. We will consult on the detail of the scheme in due course.

The basic proposition however is that a licence will be required to operate a driven grouse moor business, and that if there is strong evidence of unlawful activity or serious breaches of codes of practice by that business, then their licence could be withdrawn.

I recognise this is a serious sanction and we would therefore take steps to ensure that no credence is given to any vexatious or malicious claims of malpractice.

In introducing licensing arrangements in this way, we are bringing our system closer into line with those that apply in other comparable countries, where greater regulation of shooting and hunting is the norm, in order to protect animal welfare and avoid damage to the environment and biodiversity.

When developing the licensing scheme, we will work closely with the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, Scottish Land and Estates, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation and others representing those involved in managing and taking part in grouse shooting.

I would now like to turn to some of the other recommendations in the report. 

Muirburn is a complex issue and the research to-date suggests that it can have both beneficial and adverse effects. 

If it is undertaken without due consideration of all the possible consequences it has the potential to have a serious negative impact on wildlife and the wider environment. 

However, it can also bring positive benefits in some cases, for example by helping to reduce fuel loads and thereby reduce the risk of wildfires.

Therefore, while I do not believe that a full ban on muirburn, as some have called for, is either necessary or warranted I am clear that further regulation, particularly when it comes to muirburn on peatland, is required. 

Presiding officer, in future Muirburn will only be permitted under licence from NatureScot, regardless of the time of year it is undertaken.  And there will be a statutory ban on burning on peatland, except under licence for strictly limited purposes such as habitat restoration.

And reflecting that muirburn is undertaken throughout Scotland for a variety of purposes, these measures will apply to all muirburn; not just when it is undertaken in relation to grouse moor management.

We will also revisit the current definition of peatland and take expert advice on whether it should be revised and a stricter definition imposed.

While some of these measures go further than the recommendations made by the review group, I believe they are necessary to protect our environment and in particular our peatlands, which as I know everyone here understands, play a crucial role in our carbon storage and climate change mitigation strategies. 

Lastly I wish today to address some of the recommendations on medicated grit and mountain hares.

On medicated grit, which is a veterinary preparation used to suppress parasite worms in grouse, the Werritty review recommended that SEPA should initiate a desk-based study to ascertain whether residues of the active chemical, Flubendazole, are present in water bodies.

The report also recommended that NatureScot should publish a Code of Practice on the use of medicated grit and that all land managers should adhere to the Code to prevent any risk of contamination or of the substance reaching the human food chain.

I can confirm today that the SEPA study has been concluded and the Scottish Government will now work with stakeholders to produce guidance on best management practices for the use of medicated grit.

We will also convene an expert group to study how best to monitor compliance with the code of practice going forward.

As everyone in this chamber will be aware, earlier this year the Scottish Parliament voted to support a stage 3 amendment of the Animal and Wildlife Penalties, Protections and Powers (Scotland) 2020 Act.

This amendment, which granted full protected species status to mountain hares meets, and in some respects goes further, than the recommendations made by the Werritty review. 

The arrangements for licensing of mountain hare control, where this is necessary, are now being taken forward as part of the implementation work for the 2020 Act. 

Turning to what happens next, the Scottish Government will shortly bring forward an SSI to enact the provisions in the Animal and Wildlife, Penalties, Protections and Powers (Scotland) Act 2020, which give greater protection to mountain hares.

We intend that the new arrangements will come into effect at the end of February 2021 and so the open season for killing mountain hares, which finishes on that date, will be the last such season. 

If re-elected, this Government will bring forward the necessary legislation in the next Parliament to license grouse moor management and to strengthen the existing legislation on muirburn, including a range of appropriate penalties that could be applied in cases of non-compliance.

Any new legislation will of course be preceded by full consultation in the normal way.

The Werritty review made over 40 recommendations and I am conscious that I have not been able to cover then all today. 

We will publish a full response to all the recommendations in the report later today, alongside SEPA’s desk-based study on Flubendazole residues.

Presiding officer, I know that the measures I have announced today will not be welcomed by everyone. 

Some will be concerned at what they perceive to be  interference in legitimate land management activities. 

And there will no doubt be others who feel that the Scottish Government has not gone far enough. 

But it is clear to me that we could not continue with the status quo. 

We all benefit from our natural environment and we all have a responsibility to ensure that it is not only protected but enriched. 

The changes that I have announced today strike what I believe to be the right balance. 

They are not designed to bring an end to grouse shooting.  Indeed those businesses which comply with the law should have no problems at all with licensing.

But, crucially, where there is clear evidence that this is not happening, where agreed standards are not being adhered to or there is evidence of illegal raptor persecution, there will be a range of effective and transparent mechanisms in place to allow us to address that behaviour.

I look forward to discussing these measures with members of this parliament and key stakeholders over the coming months. 

ENDS

This is hugely significant. That the Scottish Government has gone against the Werritty Review recommendation of waiting for a further five years before even considering a licensing scheme is indicative that finally, finally, finally the overwhelming evidence of ongoing illegal raptor persecution has been accepted by the Government.

There is much detail to scrutinise, not just of the forthcoming licensing proposals but also the process of how those proposals will be developed and by whom. That will all come later.

For now, a huge thank you to Environment Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham and Environment Minister Mairi Gougeon for taking what I consider to be decisive action. I don’t underestimate the efforts they’ve had to make to get the new measures through.

Also, a huge thank you to everyone who has worked so hard over many many years to get this historic decision. It’s not over by a long way but there’s no question – today’s announcement is a significant milestone.

UPDATE 18.00hrs: The Scottish Government’s full response to the Werritty Review can be read here:

UPDATE 27th Nov 2020: Some details on Scottish Government’s proposals for grouse moor licensing scheme (here)

UPDATE 27th Nov 2020: Grouse shooting industry in meltdown hysteria over licensing (here)

UPDATE 29th Nov 2020: A hue and cry against driven grouse shooting (here)

UPDATE 30th Nov 2020: Scotland’s gamekeepers are revolting (here)

UPDATE 1st Dec 2020: With straight faces, Scottish landowners declare grouse moor licensing ‘draconian’ (here)

UPDATE 2nd Dec 2020: Scottish grouse shooting industry ‘has only itself to blame for the Government’s licensing decision’ (here)

UPDATE 2nd Dec 2020: Scottish Greens not giving an inch on grouse moor licensing regime (here)


72 Responses to “Scottish Government commits to develop immediate licensing scheme for driven grouse shooting”


  1. November 26, 2020 at 3:48 pm

    Absolutely fabulous news!

  2. 3 Stuart MacKay
    November 26, 2020 at 3:50 pm

    Mairi Gougeon already mentioned the names of the organisations who will be involved in the development of the licencing scheme – it’s all the usual suspects, Scottish Gamekeepers Association et al.

    The statement was about the minimum that the government could possibly have gotten away with. Since the statement was all about how the majority of landowners follow best practices and how it is only the rogue elements that spoil it for the rest I don’t expect much to come of this.

    The neat trick about is if you can’t find the evidence then the licence can’t be revoked. I fully expect all gamekeepers will be equipped with hammers in case they happen upon a satellite transmitter quite by accident.

  3. 4 Brian Egan
    November 26, 2020 at 3:51 pm

    Congratulations Ruth
    For all the abuse and threats you have received (and no doubt will continue to) you have stood firm behind the facts, evidence and science. One crime at a time you have forensically exposed the rotten industry and there is a little doubt that this has played a huge part in today’s decision. You opened our eyes to what was going on and inspired us to call for change. You are a legend. Enjoy this one, you so deserve it.

  4. 6 dave angel
    November 26, 2020 at 3:59 pm

    ‘Immediate’ as in during the term of the next government.

    And probably three years into the term of the next government, going on what was said today.

    There apparently isn’t time to do anything before the election.

    Maybe if the minister hadn’t sat on the Werrity report for 11 months there would have been time.

  5. 7 Colin S
    November 26, 2020 at 4:04 pm

    A milestone, yes probably, and Scot gov are to be commended for taking action… eventually, and disregarding parts of the Werrity report.
    My concern is that Nature Scot or SNH as was formerly will be responsible for the licensing scheme. Going by their track record on Beavers and the continuing Leadhills saga i fear licenses to get round legislation will be dished out willy nilly? But lets wait and see?
    The fight for an ultimate ban continues.

  6. 8 Tim Dixon
    November 26, 2020 at 4:08 pm

    Astonishing, I’ve got goosies!
    Well done to you all!
    Nuff said for now
    Slainte!

  7. 9 EricH
    November 26, 2020 at 4:14 pm

    The Minister mentioned there is “no trust” and said “it isn’t a black and white issue”.
    There will be no trust whilst it is clear that raptors are being killed by shooting interests and pro-shooting groups keep using weasel (the only ones permitted on a grouse moor) words to claim “a big boy did it and ran away”.
    It is a black and white issue, stop destroying upland environments by use of intensive “farming” methods including muirburn and raptor prosecution.

    The licensing scheme must contain the following:
    No mountain hare cull
    No raptor disappearances or suspicious death on licensed area
    No trapping in licensed area
    Removal of all upland drainage.
    Removal of all upland fences.

    And Should contain:
    No muirburn in most cases – separate license.
    No medicated grit
    Removal of all roads created in last 25 years in licensed area

  8. 11 Peter Hack
    November 26, 2020 at 4:19 pm

    This is very significant but i suspect licence conditions will need to be clearly defined; and whoever manages the scheme will have to have invoke more courage than whole echelons of SNH or whatever its called now have exhibited in the face of “Landed Power”. It is significant however and may give the SNH “Faceless Ones” a structure and courage to attend to their remit and enforce wildlife law. Its been patriarchal landed anarchy thus far.

  9. 12 Paul V Irving
    November 26, 2020 at 4:47 pm

    Wow, I feel like Tim but the devil as they say is in the detail which we will no doubt scrutinise as and when but still Wow.

  10. 13 Wilf Norman
    November 26, 2020 at 4:54 pm

    I am quite stunned, though extremely pleasantly so. Hardly any equivocation on the important stuff. Almost unbelievable sea change in approach and commitment. Wonder what the reaction is in Westminster? Brilliant news. Well done to everyone behind achieving this seismic change in attitude by the Scots’ Parliament.

  11. 14 Mike
    November 26, 2020 at 5:01 pm

    Ruth stop smelling your own farts for once and polishing your own turds. Be honest you are not the least bit interested in saving raptors just perusing your own left wing socialist political agenda using shooting as a smoke screen. Your agenda is to ban not only grouse shooting but all country persuits. The problem for people like you Ruth and obese Mark Avery and the stand infront of camera look at me Chris Packham is that you collectively will be the death of a great many hen harriers and other raptors to satisfy your hidden political agenda against tories. It could lead to a tit for tat in that no grouse shooting will lead to red listed ground nesting birds becoming extinct as no control of preditors and more raptors being killed. Think about it Ruth before you smell your next fart.

    • 15 Tim Dixon
      November 26, 2020 at 5:10 pm

      Well Mike your words speak for themselves.
      And by the way, no-one likes a bad loser – not a good look.

    • November 26, 2020 at 5:37 pm

      Your comments can hardly have done your cause, if you can call it that, any good.

    • 17 Paul V Irving
      November 26, 2020 at 5:42 pm

      Next time you escape your minders Mike, take a dictionary with you! so those of us opposed to the ills that grouse shooting visits upon us all have a hidden left wing agenda. Have you ever considered that Ruth with a PhD in raptor studies, Mark and Chris with life long passions for wildlife or folk like me with 50+ years of passion about raptors are for real. There is no hidden agenda they and we are upfront about what we want, although I for one don’t mind being described as left wing its not an insult but a badge of honour. Sour grapes a bit unpalatable are they? Nobody likes or respects a sore looser.

    • 18 Jeff P
      November 26, 2020 at 5:51 pm

      Cry more, Mike

    • 19 Douglas Malpus
      November 26, 2020 at 6:50 pm

      Mike your crude language means that you are clearly one of the shooting brigade and may even know the criminal element.

      If the “country pursuits” that you and others think should carry on in their destructive way, then they all in line to be banned. I suppose you include badger baiting and dog fighting as a respectable, gentile and harmless “country pursuit”???

      The threats within your comments have been discussed before, eg. gamekeepers ensuring more raptors are killed to prove their point.
      Such sad and twisted folk need treatment.

      Doug

    • 20 Coop
      November 26, 2020 at 7:09 pm

      Suck it up, Mike. And learn to spell, you ignorant git.

    • 21 Peter Hack
      November 26, 2020 at 7:11 pm

      Do stay off the medicated grit Old Chap…?

    • 22 Alister J Clunas
      November 26, 2020 at 8:19 pm

      You are a huge credit to the grouse shooting movement. Your intellectual rigour, wit and logic take some beating. Keep up the good work.
      Tongue firmly in cheek!

    • 23 WTF
      November 26, 2020 at 8:46 pm

      So, Mike, ‘….no grouse shooting will lead to red listed (sic) ground nesting (sic) birds becoming extinct.’ Taken literally, your vision of no grouse shooting presumably anticipates the consequences of licensing totally failing. Who knows, the future might give us cause to hark back to your foresight in this matter? In the meantime, kindly crawl back into your sewer.

    • 24 JBNTS
      November 26, 2020 at 9:08 pm

      Sounds like someone has run out of any credible arguments and has had to fall back on playground name calling. Go away Sonny, grown-ups are talking.

  12. 25 Simon Tucker
    November 26, 2020 at 5:02 pm

    Watch out for the biggest of mass culls of mountain hares this winter! It should have been stopped NOW!

  13. 26 david mitchell
    November 26, 2020 at 5:17 pm

    I suggest they up your medication Mike before they put you back in the rubber room .

    • 27 Mike Whitehouse
      November 26, 2020 at 5:45 pm

      Ruth – well done. A clear turning point; a great chunk of which is down to this informative website and its supporters.

      Mike

  14. 28 Secret Squirrel
    November 26, 2020 at 5:30 pm

    Welcome on the face of it, but the devil is in the detail, especially regarding what will be accepted as evidence of malpractice and criminality.

    I’ve already seen someone claim on social media that it’s a charter for ‘antis’ to plant evidence on estates.

  15. 30 Bill Taylor
    November 26, 2020 at 5:44 pm

    A very cautious welcome for this but the pessimist in me says let’s wait to see how it pans out. As some others have already mentioned I’m concerned that shooting interests will have undue influence on the new legislation and that Nature Scot will bow to pressure to issue licences. However, very well done to all concerned in getting to this stage and let’s hope hope our raptors will soon be safe.

  16. 31 Aberdeenshire wanderer
    November 26, 2020 at 5:54 pm

    Long grass it is…followed by an Independence Ref’, which if successful will mean parliamentary time will be tied up for a decade debating and creating the apparatus of the state. Only whole scale grass-roots SNP rebellion will bring the legislation forward in the next term; I’m not hopeful.

  17. 32 Moira Williams
    November 26, 2020 at 6:34 pm

    Really wonderful news!

  18. 33 Nimby
    November 26, 2020 at 6:47 pm

    Summed up well by so many others, congratulations then realisation of what is likely to happen (particularly if it is undertaken in league with the industry rather than independent organisation). Obviously there needs to be involvement and co-operation from estate owners and their staff but not run by some cabal from their ranks. Then there needs to be the political will in due course, and maybe a better explanation why current Govt sat on hands for so long ….

    Thank you & keep up the pressure all.

  19. 34 Andrew Wildman
    November 26, 2020 at 6:47 pm

    “The basic proposition however is that a licence will be required to operate a driven grouse moor business, and that if there is strong evidence of unlawful activity or serious breaches of codes of practice by that business, then their licence could be withdrawn.” but what if it is not a business but some rich psychopathic landowner that shoots for fun?

  20. 35 Stephen Lewis
    November 26, 2020 at 6:52 pm

    Make no mistake this is dreadful news for upland conservation. This announcement ensures that driven grouse shooting will be with us for decades. The fun-killers – whilst huffing and puffing a bit in public – will be entirely relieved that their ‘sport’ is now guaranteed by licence and will be only too willing to ‘help’ with the licence details with a compliant Scottish Government and NS.

  21. 36 Bimbling
    November 26, 2020 at 6:57 pm

    Great work by you Ruth, thank you.

    NB others were involved, but this website chronicling the appalling situation has been at the forefront. Thank you again.

  22. 37 AnMac
    November 26, 2020 at 7:04 pm

    I have grave doubts that anything will change within a few years and that is only if the SNP government get back into power which I personally dread.
    What other form of ‘crime’ and the perpetrators of it get invited to the table to discuss how the laws of the land be formed to ‘catch’ them in the act.
    It beggars belief that ministers are prepared to sit around a table to discuss a licensing scheme.
    We have been sitting talking for years and it has got us nowhere with the ‘rouge’ element. What will change, nothing.
    I despair..

    • 38 Stephen Lewis
      November 26, 2020 at 7:11 pm

      I despair too AnMac. DGS will now be totally legitimised – much to the shooters’ glee – and licencing enforcement will be light touch to non-existent.

  23. 39 Urtica
    November 26, 2020 at 7:17 pm

    Amazing news, well done to all who have been working towards this for many years. Ruth, you have played a big part, you’re awesome!
    Still a long way to go, but this is significant.
    By the way, not just a political agenda from me, I am countryman living in the North York Moors, who for several decades has worked in conservation, land management and even as an underkeeper! I still work closely with my local keepers & farmers and occasionally enjoy flyfishing for wild brown trout. So I for one am not opposed to all country sports, but i sincerely celebrate this brave and progressive step forwards. Come on now England.

  24. 40 mal jones 2
    November 26, 2020 at 7:47 pm

    The licencing of killing of Mountain Hares instead of making them a protected species the killing of which is illegal is simply pandering to the views of those who wish to remove the winter prey of Eagle species and reduce the chance of survival of juveniles as another means of exterminating them .

  25. 42 Andy Wallace
    November 26, 2020 at 8:07 pm

    It will only mean something if a grouse killing license is dependent on not killing any other species, including invertebrates during muirburn, on the licensed land or by the license holder or their employees or associates, but I believe that the SNP are Tories in disguise and it won’t happen.

  26. 43 Merlin
    November 26, 2020 at 9:19 pm

    5 years ago we would never have thought this day would come, it is a reason to celebrate however we are dealing with Politicians, tomorrow nothing has changed, this winter the slaughter of mountain Hares continues and if anything changes in the next 3 years we will be lucky, take a look at one of the previous blogs. fox hunting banned 16 years ago and it still continues today, same people , same mindset

  27. 44 Keith Dancey
    November 26, 2020 at 10:04 pm

    It was/is inevitable, I think, that politicians would opt, first, for licensing. So this announcement marks a serious watershed in the shooting (of live targets) industry. Considering the power of that industry (Head of State, and all that), this is no mean feat by those who have fought so hard for so many years to curtail this abuse of our wildlife and our environment for a ‘product’ which is dangerous to eat.

    The industry is now under ‘official’ assault on several fronts, which brings the very viability of its ‘big bag approach’ into question.

    The statement by Environment Minister Mairi Gougeon says: “The basic proposition however is that a licence will be required to operate a driven grouse moor business, and that if there is strong evidence of unlawful activity or serious breaches of codes of practice by that business, then their licence could be withdrawn.”

    One wonders what constitutes ‘strong evidence’ or ‘serious breaches’? It is inevitable that arguments about that will likely ensue…

    The RSPB, for instance, call for ‘effective monitoring and enforcement’ and still reserve the right to campaign for a ban on driven grouse shooting if ‘effective licensing’ is not introduced.

    Well done Raptor Persecution!

    This is not the end… etc etc

  28. November 26, 2020 at 11:12 pm

    Hallelujah. A strong reasoned approach. How compliance will be monitored is a major concern.

  29. 46 John Keith
    November 27, 2020 at 1:44 am

    My joy at this announcement is tempered by memory of what happened after beavers were given ‘protected status’;
    I worry that the implementation of the decision may be as disappointing as in the case of beavers.

  30. 47 Les Wallace
    November 27, 2020 at 6:18 am

    If this proves to be another window dressing exercise that’s still bad news for DGS. ‘The straw that broke the camel’s back’ comes to mind after the dreadful results of Scotgov ‘protection’ for beaver and mountain hare not to mention decades of lip service re raptor persecution. Another attempt at blatant piss taking and I think the conservation community will really lose patience and go on a very public attack for which they’ll now have plenty of ammunition. So this is early days, but still very good news no matter which way you look at it.

    There’s also scope to legitimately extend the terms of the licence which would make DGS a far harder activity to carry out. As part of a national strategy to reduce the massive financial and human cost of flooding each grouse moor should be assessed for its flood reduction capacity – how best to slow water flow from the moors into watercourses and then slow the progression of water through the watercourses. This would involve a toolkit of measures so the best option could be used where appropriate – remove drainage, cease muirburn and protect peat, contour and riparian tree planting to slow water flow into watercourses, then addition of woody material and eventually the beaver to hold their water back. The latter would make a massive difference which is already being shown by an increasing list of experimental projects in other parts of the UK. Another vital by product of this would be the creation of damp riparian woodland strips and broadened streams which would be bloody marvellous firebreaks meaning our emergency services don’t have to spend so much time and money on flammable hills because some useless gits like shooting grouse.

    It’s a disgrace that this isn’t happening already and I can see no reason why it doesn’t form part of the requirements for a licence. There is an increasing amount of riparian tree planting to help salmon and salmon fishing that happens to reduce flooding as well. Unfortunately I know for a fact that where this planting along with the required fencing starts impacting on Scotland’s other idiotic field ‘sport’ open hill deer stalking, it ceases. This will be happening with grouse shooting too and shows where recreational shooting occurs stopping businesses and homes from going underwater is a secondary consideration. Not only morally reprehensibly politically disastrous – as long as the matter is being brought to public attention. Do you think your home in Perth being under higher flood risk because people like shooting grouse is acceptable? I think the answer is pretty obvious, but it needs the question to be asked preferably of all 46,000 people who live there. Same for so many other villages and towns.

    We’ve not only got a vociferous minority trying to vilify the beaver for largely avoidable, imaginary or exaggerated damage in the lowlands we’ve also got massive areas of wildlife poor, flood friendly grouse moors with rampant raptor persecution still on the go. We need to pull off a bit of a chess move – push for putting the beaver back into the uplands as an amplifier of flood prevention work and a catalyst for raising public awareness about an issue that affects so many of them. I honestly can’t see why this shouldn’t be an element of licensing as hopefully healthy raptor populations and decent public access are. Given the economic and humanitarian considerations how could anyone make an argument for not doing it?

  31. 48 John L
    November 27, 2020 at 8:41 am

    Before I become too jubilant, I will wait to see exactly what the legislation, which will be required to underpin licensing, actually looks like, and whether this is realistic, enforceable legislation which will achieve the results that all the various conservation bodies hope.

    My concern is that the SG have already indicated that various groups representing the interests of the driven grouse shooting industry are already being invited to be involved in shaping of this legislation. These groups aren’t entering this process willingly, or with any desire to bring about change to their practices. Until they recognise all that is wrong with many aspects of DGS, they will have no motivation for reform.

    What we could end up with is a licensing system that has technical loops and weaknesses which can be exploited, so that DGS is able to continue very much in the same manner as it does today.

    The fact that expose of the hunt webinars occurred at a similar time to this announcement, should be a reminder of the type of people we are dealing with, and that some of them are very slippery customers who will use their influence and connections to ensure licensing doesn’t become an obstacle to their activities.

  32. 49 Dougie
    November 27, 2020 at 12:26 pm

    I plainly see the Minister’s statement as a prelude to more shuffling and obfuscation. There is no evidence that the SG will unequivocally put a stop to the crime and land abuse.
    The SG cannot manage to “talk the talk” far less “walk the walk”.
    For years the SG have spluttered their way ahead through continual hollow undertakings.

    When a government minister makes a proclamation about what is going to be done there is not a particle of evidence to justify credence being afforded to such statements.
    Attempts to enforce existing legislation are/have been woeful almost to the point of being an irrelevance. With such a track record only actions count. Words alone are pathetic trumpery.

    Had a Minister announced a series of interim measures that were to be enacted NOW and followed that with a list of intended further measures then that could be worthy of consideration. No chance of that.

    Once again all we have is presstitution.

    At the same time as all this is going on Sturgeon (predictably and interminably) has said a second independence referendum should be held “in the earlier part” of the next Scottish Parliament term. The FM is well aware that call will be knocked out of the arena, but it can still be a useful, if somewhat tired, smokescreen to mask other troubles.

  33. 50 R Stuart Craig
    November 27, 2020 at 1:00 pm

    More power to your elbow Ruth. You have many more supporters than deriders and as a polician this should more to you than than any policy statement. It appears to be a positive step in the right direction.
    If FRED was still alive he might express his feelings with a “Yabba Dabba Do”

  34. 51 Robert Price
    November 28, 2020 at 9:14 pm

    Full marks to the Scottish government, the amount of wildlife slaughtered to put a grouse on the table is disgraceful.

    • 52 Stephen Lewis
      November 28, 2020 at 10:19 pm

      It is indeed disgraceful but why would licensing the killing of grouse for fun (with a few ending up on the table) put an end to wildlife slaughter Robert? Surely it will simply perpetuate it?

  35. 53 Jill Willmott
    March 9, 2021 at 6:18 pm

    At present I won’t hold my breath for any great change, (although I will offer up a prayer to the Gods!) But we can still whittle them down, bit by bit!


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