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Rural organisations said today that the recommendations of a government-commissioned review of grouse moor management will mean a ‘seismic’ change for grouse moors across Scotland.
[Link to report and Scottish Government statement at bottom of page]

Following publication of the review group’s report, a joint statement was issued by: British Association for Shooting and Conservation, Scottish Association for Country Sports, Scottish Countryside Alliance, Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association and Scottish Land & Estates.

“The recommendations of the Werritty Review will mean a seismic change for grouse moors across Scotland. This report has recommended a barrage of measures that will leave the grouse shooting sector engulfed by legislation and red tape. On top of that, penalties for wildlife crime in Scotland are about to get much tougher.

“The sector has already willingly embraced change and improvements in how it operates. We believe further enhanced training and codes of practice covering muirburn, mountain hare management and medicated grit are the best solution rather than onerous licensing provisions and we will be seeking an urgent meeting with government to discuss these key areas.

“The review group has recognised that there is no case for the banning of driven grouse shooting. They also accepted that licensing of grouse moors in general is hugely contentious, complex and unnecessary at this time. Nor is there scientific evidence to justify such a measure. Should it be introduced in the future, it would push an important rural business sector beyond breaking point.

Grouse shooting plays a vital role in helping to sustain communities and delivers multiple social, economic and environmental benefits. It would be a tragedy if the massive private investment that underpins these benefits is put at risk by a package of regulatory measures that will herald fundamental change.

“Scotland already has the most stringent laws to deal with raptor persecution in the UK and they’re about to get even tougher with proposed jail sentences of up to five years and wide-ranging new financial penalties – which we support. There has been huge progress in recent years to combat raptor persecution and incidents are now at historically low levels. We are committed to playing our part to help eradicate the problem but are deeply concerned that law-abiding rural businesses will be buried under an avalanche of regulation and added costs as a result of this review. That may well force people out of business and put families’ livelihoods at risk.

“At a time when climate change and the environment is of paramount importance, we take great pride in the environmental and conservation contribution made by grouse moors through carbon capture and the careful management of Scotland’s much-loved heather clad landscape. Inflicting an even greater burden on moorland managers would jeopardise this.

“We welcome the fact that the review recommends greater transparency and independence around the satellite-tagging of birds of prey. However, its proposals do not go far enough in seeking to create an open and accountable system.”

Alex Stoddart, SACS:
"Although perhaps few of our members shoot driven grouse, all stand up for rural communities having the right to survive and make a living from the land. Moors managed for grouse shooting stand apart from non-interventionist rewilding conservation landscapes as healthy and biodiverse places where many species thrive other than red grouse.

Contrary to the Cabinet Secretary's statement today, it is clear from our reading of the report that it offers zero evidence or sound reasoning to support the licensing of grouse shooting, and actually puts forward a number of strong arguments against it. Further, a great deal more was covered in the report other than the licensing of grouse shooting.

We encourage Scottish Government to work with us and our partner bodies to further develop the Moorland Management Best Practice suite of guidance. Incentivising best practice and voluntary endeavour will achieve a great deal more for our rural communities and heather moorlands than flinging big sticks with little thought for the non-political real world impact on fragile communities and wild places."

The Scottish Government statement and the full report can be found at the following link: