No, grouse shooting isn’t a rich man’s thing.
No, we aren’t subsidising it as taxpayers.
It’s an every day story of grouse-shooting folk. First buy your grouse moor – Muggleswick, 13,000 acres, for £7m.
Buy another, East Allenheads, another 13,000 acres, for £10m. That’s more like it.
Buy a Magritte for c£3m because you can’t make grouse shooting pay unless you have a few nice pictures hanging on the wall and claim Enterprise Investment Scheme relief. Phew!! That is a relief unless the HMRC notice that you don’t need to look at a Magritte in order to blast Red Grouse into oblivion. But even then you could argue that ‘achieving sales in the shooting industry can involve lavish entertainment’ and that’s not just a lick of paint but a nearly £3m lick of paint for starters.
Most of this is way over my head because I’d never heard of EIS until a few days ago, but delving into the details, as a hobby, does reveal that East Allenheads shot 1500 brace of Red Grouse in the year 2000 but after Mr Herrmann (hedge fund manager, fan of cannibilistic trout and shooter) bought the place in 2003 bags increased to 7750 brace in 2013.
So the bag increased approximately five-fold. No intensification of grouse moor management there then? Does the capital value of the land increase five fold too? Now that would mean that East Allenheads was worth £50m now. Surely that can’t be right? Probably not. A barren bit of hill, just used for shooting birds for fun, is suddenly worth £50m. Wouldn’t it be awful if someone came along and suggested that driven grouse shooting should be banned – how much would it be worth then? Errr – practically nothing? Probably worth investing in YFTB, the Countryside Alliance, BASC, the Moorland Association (provided they don’t say things like ‘If we let the harriers in…‘) and the GWCT to safeguard that investment then.
The last thing you would want would be a bunch of raptors flying around the place looking beautiful and eating a few grouse, or even quite a lot of grouse, or as Langholm showed us, enough Red Grouse to make driven grouse shooting unviable. Nobody would believe that you could shoot 15,000 Red Grouse off a moor in a year unless someone, somewhere, quite possibly miles away, is making sure that there are no raptors to attack the capital value of grouse moor land.
As far as I know, Mr Herrmann’s grouse moor is impeccably managed but isn’t he lucky that he isn’t troubled by protected birds of prey otherwise he might have to sell ‘his’ Magritte in order to scrape by.
Maybe the abbreviated accounts over the years would paint an interesting picture for someone who understood them too – I know I don’t – here’s one example.