George’s Monbiot’s article, “I'd vote yes to rid Scotland of its feudal landowners” (Tuesday 20 May), presents the usual tired picture of landowners being part of a problem for rural Scotland rather than one of the drivers in creating an even brighter future for these areas. The numerous inaccuracies contained within his article will also rightly cast doubt upon his knowledge of the whole subject.
Mr Monbiot mentions the Country Landowners' Association but he fails to make clear that they do not even represent Scottish landowners – Scottish Land & Estates does.
This lack of knowledge is further demonstrated when he comments on CAP. A basic journalistic check would help him realise that everyone who is involved in farming – including the many landowners who are involved in agriculture themselves - are currently working with the Scottish Government to make sure money is targeted only at those who are actively farming.
His lamentable lack of understanding of rural Scotland extends to his thoughts on Scottish wildlife and his attack on grouse moors. Scotland’s land managers are increasingly answerable to legislation, codes of practice and guidance overseen by the Scottish Government and Scottish Natural Heritage. Self-regulatory processes have also developed in response to both emerging ecological and national issues. These strands have been drawn together under Wildlife Estates Scotland (WES) game and wildlife management accreditation.
WES was set up as a project in 2010 by Scottish Land & Estates and established a steering group comprising land managers, the Cairngorm National Park Authority, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust. Accreditation is independently assessed by Scottish Food Quality Certification (SFQC), based on a rigorous application process and site visits. The project is officially endorsed at EU level and fully supported by the Minister for Environment and the Scottish Government.
Mr Monbiot doesn’t appear to be aware that landowners with different management perspectives - both east and west of the Cairngorms massif - are involved in this initiative, which is also officially endorsed at EU level. Indeed, one he singles out for most criticism – Balmoral - has just been assessed by SFQC and has exceeded the standard for award of WES accreditation, clearly demonstrating its credentials.
Whilst Mr Monbiot may wish to disregard the positive work of Scottish landowners for his own ideological reasons he should, at the very least, make attempts to research his subject properly.