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Shooting Tax nonsense from Scottish Greens

'The Ferret' has published an article based on 'research' conducted by Scottish Greens MSP Andy Wightman on Shooting Rates and how it is apparently wrong for there to be a shooting rates exemption - known as Small Business Bonus Scheme (SBBS) - available for small businesses and landholdings. Sounds daft? Then read on.

We are grateful to The Ferret for publishing so much of our response.

Shooting Tax nonsense from Scottish Greens

In reply to Mr Andy Wightman, SACS director Alex Stoddart said:

“This is an unintelligent piece of work by Mr Wightman and represents nothing more than politicised nonsense based on flawed extrapolation of data. The numbers don’t even begin to add up. Certainly not for the many ordinary people who have been dumped on with an unfair shooting tax, even if they don’t even conduct any meaningful shooting activity on their land.

By Scottish Government’s own private admission, shooting rates are a failed attempt to lash out at the perceived excesses of one or two large landowners; however, as SACS predicted, the project has only turned out to be a burden for smaller landholdings and ordinary folk, the vast majority of whom do not conduct any meaningful shooting activity other than to control crows, foxes, pigeons and other pests, thereby ensuring that Scotland’s ruling political elite, such as Mr Wightman, have no shortage of porridge, lamb and potatoes on their Edinburgh restaurant tables whilst sitting on their lazy fat backsides dreaming up new ways to focus on anything other than the economy, jobs, communities, education and health.

Getting down to the bare facts and truth - because truth actually matters, even for agenda-obsessed politicians - there are not 13,705 shooting estates or sites in Scotland and the majority of landholdings, often owned or operated by ordinary working folk, do not conduct any meaningful shooting activity. Were it not for SBBS rates relief, then the majority of those properties and persons would be unfairly taxed for something they don’t even do – shooting.

When this unfair tax was supposed to just hit the ‘high heid yins’ and 'landed toffs', why shouldn't farmers, crofters, community trusts and other ordinary folk have access to this rates relief? And when you look at how few of the 13,705 registered entities are actually proper shooting estates or enterprises - the majority are just lowland farms, forestry blocks, crofts, fields ,hill farms and even wind farms - it is clear that this political land tax is actually funded by ordinary working people from cities, towns and villages across Scotland.

Mr Wightman does admit that shooting rates is “imperfect” and talks about the importance of funding public services, but there are probably better ways to deliver those services than creating a tax system that is unfair and costs more to run than it brings in – and certainly costs a hell of a lot more to run when you take away the majority of shooting rates bill receivers who don’t even use the land for shooting enterprises!

To be clear, the general public is not subsidising vast landholdings – we are all 100% subsidising political ineptitude and the mismanagement of our finite public resources. What is Mr Wightman actually arguing for; that the small business rates relief should be removed and the majority of folk with no interest in shooting be made to pay a pointless and unfair land tax? Try that one in 2021.

Mr Wightman waxes obsessively and venomously against shooting estates and enterprises, however – and saying this as a Gael raised on a Hebridean croft and whose forebears understood more about land rights and responsibilities than Mr Wightman ever will – those estates likely contribute a great deal more towards Scotland's rural economy, services, communities and environment than the carbon offset from so much Scottish Green Party hot air in representing their urban elite agenda.”