North of the border, SNH has taken away licenses from grouse shooting estates to control predators of grouse and then given them back again.
SNH describe this as ‘robust licensing’. The ‘general licence’ was withdrawn from several estates but then specific licences, covering the same activities, were given back.
SNH would presumably regard taxing me and then giving me back the money as ‘robust taxation’ and reimbursing fines to offenders as ‘robust penalties’, and letting convicted criminals out of prison as ‘robust imprisonment’.
This news is highly embarrassing for Scottish government and also undermines the RSPB case for a licensing system in England to tackle the ills of driven grouse shooting. What hope is there that robust licensing measures could be brought in that wouldn’t be undermined by Natural England and Defra, the very bodies that should be regulating the hobby of grouse shooting?
Well done to Raptor Persecution UK for doing the detective work on this story and to the Herald Scotland for exposing the lack of teeth of the regulation applying to shooting estates.
So I’m asking you to write to your MP this weekend and ask them to attend the Westminster Hall debate on 31 October and make the following points:
- wildlife crime is rife in the uplands. This has major conservation impacts on birds of prey (see my written evidence). Illegal killing of birds of prey is not caused by a few bad apples but is endemic to the activity of driven grouse shooting.
- intensive management of our hills for driven grouse shooting causes many other problems (increased flooding, increased water treatment costs, culls of Mountain Hares, damage to protected habitats, increased greenhouse gas emissions) which could be tackled by stronger regulation and government should consider that as a serious option for those issues
- but the government is not seriously addressing wildlife crime. The grouse shooting industry has shown no willingness or ability to tackle this issue despite decades of saying that it will. The status quo is not an option. Banning driven grouse shooting is the most effective way to end wildlife crime against birds of prey in our uplands and anything else will be weak and ineffective.
Please write to your MP and ask them to pass on your letter to Defra ahead of the debate if they are unable to attend and make these points themselves. Tell your MP that you will also write to them after the debate and that this is an issue about which you feel very strongly.