Every grouse moor needs a Magritte

A typical grouse moor By Chapiro, via Wikimedia Commons


A typical Magritte photo: Peter Cairns
A typical Magritte. Photo: Peter Cairns


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.

Not enough?

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.




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11 Replies to “Every grouse moor needs a Magritte”

  1. Nice to know we are all in it together. He must be feeling very nervous now we have a PM determined to '...make Britain a country that works for everyone' and lead a government 'driven not by the interests of the privileged few'.....

    Re the the abbreviated accounts - might be worth tweeting Richard Murphy?

    1. Surreal and incredibly complex and it is the complexity which ensures that the truth behind the murky world of tax abuse is concealed from the majority of the electorate, most of whom are fair minded people who wouldn't tolerate such unfairness in other aspects of life.

      I can wholeheartedly recommend the 'The Joy of Tax' by Richard Murphy. It takes some skill to write such an engaging and inspirational book on a subject which is, on the face of it, rather dry. It is one of the best books I have read in the last couple of years.

  2. In 2003 John Dodd bought Glenogil for £6.3m (The Guardian reported it as 4.5m) and in 2013 sold it for £19 million.
    As reported by RPUK, [the] Glenogil [area has been] one of the raptor crime hotspots. The removal of subsidies hasn't stopped the crime and after the sale the [disturbing incidents have] continued [in the area]. The last case against Glenogil has been dropped with no explanation.

    Mark writes: this comment has been lightly edited by me.

  3. No wonder the support for the pro-grouse shooting petition in the south is concentrated in very exclusive London boroughs and the Cotswolds.

  4. One further thought for tomorrow Mark, why not take some copies of photos with you showing the burning and general desecration of our moorlands and wildlife that can be passed across to the MPs. Pictures are often worth a thousand words in these situations.

  5. Mark you remind me of another Belgian - Hercule Poirot. Brilliant piece of detective work and doesn't this just show the la la land of 'sporting estates' for what it is - something with no bearing to reality. Cheers!


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