SLE statement on grouse moor management

Press Release

Following publication of Scottish Government’s response to Werritty Review of grouse moor management, Scottish Land & Estates has made the following statement.

Mark Tennant, chairman, Scottish Land & Estates, said: “The people who live and work in rural Scotland and help make grouse shooting a world-class tourism offering have been let down badly by the Scottish Government today with its announcement that it proposes to license grouse shooting businesses.

“People involved in grouse shooting are acutely aware of the need to embrace change and demonstrate the very highest standards of land management. They have already taken on a huge amount of legislation, regulation and guidance and this includes estates adopting many of the recommendations contained within the Werritty report. 

“The Scottish Government has failed to take this on board and intends to introduce a licensing scheme that is unnecessary, disproportionate and creates an even greater bureaucratic burden on businesses that invest heavily in fragile areas of rural Scotland.

“In her announcement today, the Minister said that good moor managers have ‘nothing to fear’. There are very real fears this could impact perfectly law-abiding shooting businesses. ‘Nothing to fear’ is scant reassurance as there are those who are avowed opponents of grouse shooting who have the capacity to hijack regulation and use it for their own ends. 

“We are not against change. We made very substantial recommendations to the Werritty review and will continue to contribute to constructive recommendations from the report – however our main concern is the overarching recommendation to bring forward licensing.

“The Werritty Review group itself stated there is no scientific or evidential basis for introducing   licensing. This measure does not guarantee the eradication of raptor persecution – something we all want to see although it is at very low levels and Scotland already has the most stringent laws to deal with raptor persecution in the UK.

“A tremendous amount of work has already been done in terms of improving muirburn practices and our members will continue with this work. We welcome the fact that the Scottish Government has recognised that a ban on muirburn is unjustified but we are very concerned that yet more controls are being proposed. We also want to see further detail on how the use of medicated grit is going to be regulated and there is a great deal of work to be done to ensure that the licensing of the control of mountain hares is developed sensibly.

“We are disappointed that an opportunity to adopt various management options including a brood management scheme to help bolster the population of hen harriers has not been seized now by the Scottish Government and would urge that this is considered as a priority.

“We do welcome the news that improved data sharing on satellite-tagged birds will be introduced next year. This is a step in the right direction but there is a pressing need for complete transparency and independent data gathering as well as greater use of latest technology.

“Grouse shooting plays a hugely important role in rural Scotland, sustaining communities and delivering substantial economic and environmental benefits. It would be bad legislation if the unsubsidised private investment that underpins these benefits is put at risk by licensing.

“We will be seeking an urgent meeting with Ministers to discuss how this draconian proposal is going to work.”

Read the Scottish Government's Werritty Report response