Biggest transformation for generations comes to grouse moor management

Ross Ewing (Director of Moorland at Scottish Land & Estates)

LICENSING will be a ‘seismic change’ in how grouse moor management operates, Scottish Land & Estates said today.

The rural business organisation was speaking after the Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill was passed in the Scottish Parliament this afternoon.

Estates wanting to shoot grouse will now require a licence which will run for a period of up to five years.

Muirburn and certain wildlife traps will also be subject to separate licensing regimes.

Ross Ewing, Director of Moorland at Scottish Land & Estates, said:

“Licensing of grouse shooting represents a seismic change for rural estates and their employees, including gamekeepers and shepherds.

“The legislation goes far beyond the stated intention of deterring the persecution of raptors by introducing a broad range of relevant offences under which licences can be suspended or revoked. Many of these offences bear no connection to land managed for grouse shooting.

“The use of certain wildlife traps and muirburn – the rotational burning of heather – will also be subject to separate licensing regimes and, with peer-reviewed science demonstrating that these activities are delivering decisive benefits for biodiversity and nature, it is important that the licensing schemes are as light-touch as possible.

“As the Bill has made its way through parliament, the government has, to its credit, adopted several common-sense amendments after representations from Scottish Land & Estates and others. Extending the grouse licence duration from a year to up to five years, and removing the ability for NatureScot to suspend licences without proof of criminality, have given the legislation a greater chance of being workable in the long-term.

“Grouse management is funded completely privately, unlike other comparable land uses, and experts made clear during committee evidence sessions that there is no public interest in Scotland reducing its area of moorland managed for grouse such are the contributions it makes to combatting climate change and reversing biodiversity loss.

“Estates will engage constructively with the new licensing regime but it is also vital that the Scottish Government and its agencies adopt the same approach going forward and recognise the huge social, economic and environmental contribution that grouse moor management makes to Scotland.”

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