Meanwhile in Scotland…

DEFRA is in denial over the ills of driven grouse shooting – they haven’t even made it to base camp yet and admitted that wildlife crime is out of control on English grouse moors.  Without accepting the problem, and without accepting it as their problem, we can’t expect any action from the grouse shooter’s moll although it was interesting to see that her boss was sporting a Hen Harrier pin badge yesterday!
The Labour party at least recognises, I think (it is actually hard to tell), that wildlife crime associated with intensive grouse shooting is an issue that needs to be solved – but doesn’t seem to have a plan to fix the problem.
The Green Party has a policy to ban all bloodsports but is unlikely soon to be in a position to do any such thing. However, Natalie Bennett is one of the most powerful advocates, and a well-informed one, on why driven grouse shooting needs to be dealt with (wildlife crime, water quality, greenhouse gases as well as wildlife crime).
The Liberal Democrats …  oh dear, the Liberal Democrats.
The political party showing how these things can be done is the SNP.  This is an extract from their programme for government for this year (2017-18).
Protecting our flora and fauna
Wildlife and plant species must also be protected as key natural resources. We will:
  • take forward proposals with Police Scotland for new resources to tackle wildlife crime 
  • establish an independent group to consider how to ensure that the management of grouse moors is environmentally sustainable and compliant with the law 
  • commission work in relation to protecting gamekeepers’ employment and other rights 
  • commission a research project to examine the impact of large shooting estates on Scotland’s economy and biodiversity 
  • establish an independent group to advise on effective and sustainable deer management
I’d vote for that.
I’ll look forward to hear any further positive news from the SNP conference but will be surprised, delighted of course, if we hear much from other political parties during the autumn conference season. But, we’ll see.
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17 Replies to “Meanwhile in Scotland…”

  1. Latest news is that house prices in a lot of the country are now more affordable than in 2007.
    Wonder if we will soon be hearing the same for grouse moors?
    Meanwhile, I'll carry on giving my tourist buck to Scotland.

  2. [COMMISSIONED REPORT Commissioned Report No. 982 Analyses of the fates of satellite tracked golden eagles in Scotland Whitfield, D.P. & Fielding, A.H. 2017]
    worth a read.......

  3. As most of you know my youngest has his own wildlife business in Scotland -
    He pays a license to operate this business as do all Wildlife operators in Argyle and Bute but not the rest of Scotland. But there is no license for shooting estates even though many claim they are taking their guests to see and often shoot wildlife in Argyle and Bute.

    I have written to Roseanne Cunningham to ask why one has to pay and the other does not as it does not seem fair. The advantage of a license is to limit the number of operators in any one area as to make the rest feasible to make a living. If this was added to shooting with all protected species protected you would find that there would be a big rise in the number of wildlife operators that could operate around Argyle as well as the rest of the country if a license system was brought in there.

    The effect on shooting would also mean that they too would have to be assessed to see if they are operating properly. I am sure Roseanna Cunningham has no idea that these licenses actually exist in Scotland already and she could bring them in with out a problem showing that others are already paying for theirs.

  4. I hope the SNP are worth all these plaudits , and I fully realise why you are highlighting there approach but we are much more dubious up here. The SNP are a divided, populist, slippery bunch "fine words butter no parsnips" could have been invented for them. Its the Greens in Scotland that should be praised.

  5. Absolutely agree with J Coogan, he's spot on. The SNP are masters of playing the electorate along whilst seldom achieving much.

  6. Personally Roseanna Cunningham comes across as sincere in her determination to stamp down on wildlife crime, Hen Harrier persecution in particular. However I might start to take the SNP Government more seriously in this respect if their declared objectives included a thorough review of whether grouse shooting be allowed to continue at all. Undertaking such a review would not necessarily commit them to banning grouse shooting, so why not go the whole hog and answer the question many of us are posing? I suspect the best outcome we can expect will be some tightening of enforcement, possibly involving a licensing scheme which will be largely ineffectual. Meanwhile, as a compromise with their 'Gift of Grouse' friends, certain loopholes will be included in any proposed legislation (cf. the fox hunting ban), and the Defra proposal for so-called 'brood management' will be extended to Scotland. Gamekeepers will simply continue to cull Hen Harriers in even greater secrecy than at present. They are already adopting methods which make detection of their crimes more difficult.

  7. This intention in Scottish Government statement is to be welcomed, but lets not forget it has taken a lot of lobbying and effort to get this far az this was not in their 2015 election manifesto. But at least they have listened and are moving ahead. There are however some strange relationships between Shooting Estates/Organisations and SNP MSP's/Ministers!

  8. Some folk are never happy, usually because their expectations are unrealistic in the first place or they believe in bogeymen like Fergus Ewing. The Scottish Government's proposals, especially two and four are the necessary foundation for either curbing driven grouse shooting or removing it. The proposals as a whole reflect an awareness of the need to examine the role of sporting estates as part of the whole land question in Scotland. Meanwhile, MSPs MPs and the Government itself will continue to observe normal relations with an established rural industry, not least because they have an obligation to represent all of their constituents.

    The conclusions that emerge from these proposals may well be ignored as the cynics suggest but why would the SG risk putting itself in that position with the proposals if its direction of travel was not clear. Any changes to land use that emerge from the proposals will also depend to a considerable extent on Holyrood retaining the powers over agriculture, forestry and environment which Westminster is intent on removing post Brexit and the SNP is the only party you can depend on to resist that removal.

    A simple ban on driven grouse is unrealistic. Any failure of the more realistic licensing proposal would add to the justification for wider land use change. It may a long game but naive cynicism towards the SNP's efforts won't speed it up and you have Westminster's record in England to compare them with.

    1. Stevenson - I mostly agree with you (which is why I wrote this blog in the way that I did).

      Thank you.

      Thee is more potential for movement in Scotland with the politicians in power there than there is in England with the politicians in power and opposition down here - at the moment. So let's get behind what is happening in Scotland and encourage that progress. If those politicians fail us then we criticise them.

      1. Yes I was aware of your reason for highlighting the SNP stance, and I kinda understand it but there is an alternative view that by holding the SNP up in a false light that they don't deserve simply to embarrass UK politicians is not a very honest way forward. It also gives the SNP the impression that they are getting away with their halfhearted support to effect change in Scotland.

        1. J.Coogan - what they say they are going to do, and there is evidence that they are doing it, doesn't look very halfhearted to me.

          1. I hope you are correct Mark but I would make a small wager that the licensing proposal for example gets nowhere or is so diluted its not worth the paper its written on.

          2. J.Coogan - well you might be right, but the thing to do now is to encourage that process along as much as possible.

          3. J Coogan, I think we all know that is a possibility, but entrenched one line denials of SNP intentions hardly expands the discussion.

          4. We are seeing some progress, it may not be "halfhearted" but lets not forget that the current Scottish Government have been in control for 10 years. They have made some small steps forward but in this time raptor persecution has continued and some would say it has got worse.


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