Scottish Land & Estates, which represents around 2,500 landowners, said today landowners across Scotland are ‘fully committed’ to helping stamp out wildlife crime.
A new offence of vicarious liability in relation to the persecution of wild birds came into force today (1 January 2012) under the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011. This offence allows for the prosecution of landowners or managers who fail to take the appropriate steps to ensure their employees and contractors act within the law.
Scottish Land & Estates has developed a guide - endorsed by the Scottish Government - that will assist landowners on the implications of the new provisions of the Act. (The guide can be downloaded by using the link below)
Luke Borwick, chairman of Scottish Land & Estates, said: “The Due Diligence Good Practice guide which we have published should help landowners address the issues raised by the creation of this new offence.
“We welcome the fact that in his foreword to this guide, the Minister for Environment recognised the contribution estates make particularly to the game shooting and tourism industries and underlined the Government’s support for this.
“We understand the motivation behind the Scottish Government’s vicarious liability measures and landowners across Scotland are fully committed to stamping out wildlife crime. Only a tiny number of landowners, managers or keepers have any involvement in such activity.
“From the outset we have made clear our reservations about the necessity for a statutory approach but it is now important that there is absolute clarity for landowners, managers and gamekeepers on how the legislation will be enforced.
“We are already very active within the Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime Scotland and have founded the Wildlife Estates Scotland scheme. Through joint working mechanisms such as these we hope to now ensure that it is only those who are actually culpable who are affected by this legislation rather than the vast majority who could potentially incur additional cost burdens.
“Despite these concerns, we recognise that vicarious liability is now part of the regulatory environment in which our members work, and as such we will continue to work closely with members and other stakeholders to promote good practice in all aspects of estate management.
““Most landowners already take necessary measures to prevent offences happening on their land. However, the administrative burden on law abiding estates of being able to show “all reasonable steps and all due diligence” to the standard required by a court should not reach a point where red tape undermines legitimate businesses – especially on smaller estates - in the current economic climate.”
NB. Access is member password protected. Hard copies of the Guide are available for £30 for non members and free for members.