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Parliament urged to oppose Government on flawed sporting rates plan

Press release issued on behalf of the Scottish Association for Country Sports, The Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group and Scottish Land & Estates.
Shooting and land management organisations today appealed to the Scottish Parliament to put ‘jobs and businesses’ first in the debate over the re-introduction of non-domestic rates for shooting and deer forests.
The Parliament’s Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee is starting its Stage 2 consideration of the Land Reform Bill and the re-introduction of sporting rates is a key element of the Scottish Government’s proposals.
The Scottish Association for Country Sports, The Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group and Scottish Land & Estates today urged parliamentarians to consider carefully the potentially serious impact of pressing ahead with the measure.
Alex Stoddart, director of the Scottish Association for Country Sports, said: “We have 11,000 members in Scotland and the vast majority of them are ordinary Scottish people with an interest in country sports. We believe very strongly that much more can be achieved by incentivising rather than placing further burdens on the shooting industry. We do not think that the impact of this has been fully considered. It is regrettable that ordinary Scottish communities will be made to suffer as a result of this bill. 
“At the very least there needs to be a full impact assessment done and thorough consideration given to what reliefs there may be for the many thousands of shooters and deer managers who drive conservation schemes on the land that they manage. The measure as proposed seems disproportionate, and driven by politics rather than what’s best for those of us who work and live in rural Scotland.” 
Andrew Grainger, project coordinator from The Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group added: “Our research shows that country sports tourists coming to Scotland spend around £155m per annum. Anything which undermines the competitiveness of country sports in Scotland could see these tourists choosing to visit other destinations with a subsequent negative impact on the Scottish rural economy.” 
Doug McAdam, chief executive of Scottish Land & Estates, said: “The most important issue here is what impact the re-introduction of non-domestic rates will have on rural businesses. This may be portrayed as a measure aimed at wealthy landowners but the reality is that rates would have to be applied to wide variety of owners and occupiers of land and that could affect people from many different walks of life.
“The reality of why rates were exempt in the first place is that they were complex to administer and raised a relatively small amount of revenue. We would ask the Rural Affairs Committee to maintain the strong line it took at Stage 1 and ensure that, before any such measure is considered, a thorough economic impact assessment is undertaken.”

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