Latest measure to tackle raptor persecution now in place

Paul-Wheelhouse-MSP Last July, following a series of raptor persecution incidents, Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse announced his intention to introduce ‘further measures’ to tackle the ongoing problem (see here).

One of those measures has recently come in to force (as of 1st Jan 2014).

That measure is an enabling paragraph in some of the 2014 General Licences that says this:

SNH reserves the right to exclude the use of this General Licence by certain persons and/or on certain areas of land where we have reason to believe that wild birds have been taken or killed by such persons and/or on such land other than in accordance with this General Licence.

First of all, we applaud Paul Wheelhouse’s intentions, at least, and his determination to make sure this measure has been enacted. Good for him. However, as we blogged at the time, we really don’t see how this latest measure can be enforced (see here for our reasons).

For once, it seems that many of the game-shooting organisations are in agreement with us. Before SNH issued the 2014 General Licences, they had their usual consultation period and asked for comments about this new enabling paragraph, amongst other things (see here). They have just published those consultation responses and all the respondents from within the game-shooting lobby raised many of the same concerns as us.

So, even though this new measure is now in place, it is highly unlikely that it will ever be effectively deployed….a bit like the legislation relating to vicarious liability. We might be wrong, of course, but only time will tell.

In general terms, the 2014 General Licences are not much better than the 2013 General Licences in that many of the previous concerns raised (going back several years!) have still not been addressed. We’ve blogged about this a lot (e.g. see here, here, here, here, herehere, here, here, here, here) and don’t intend to go over all the points again….not just yet, anyway. We understand that SNH is intending to organise further research in 2014 to address many of the concerns, although they said that when they issued the 2013 General Licences and yet here we are, another year gone by and we’re still waiting for that research.

While we wait, it’s worth you having a look at the responses to the 2014 General Licence consultation – especially the response from the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association, who once again are asking for ‘quota systems’ for buzzards, ravens, pine martens and badgers.

Download the PDF here: Consultation responses to General Licences 2014

Naturally, we’ll be watching with interest to see whether SNH has cause to withdraw the use of the General Licences, on the basis that they have ‘reason to believe’ that wild birds have been illegally taken or killed. The enabling paragraph probably cannot be used retrospectively so we’ll just have to wait until we see the next incident of criminal activity, which probably won’t be too far off, and then we’ll see what happens.


5 thoughts on “Latest measure to tackle raptor persecution now in place”

  1. Once again the government, be it Scottish or English have introduced something that they know damned well can not be monitored or implemented in a proper fashion, until proper custodial sentences are issued, not suspended due to so called ill health, things will not change.
    If a person is capable of walking the moors and putting poison down or battering raptors to death then they are fit enough to go to prison or are they now going to plead insanity?

  2. I don;t know enough so i am unclear about one thing in particular.
    If SNH can withdraw the grants from Glenogil Estate (which i gather had no prosecution) then why is it such a big deal to withdraw the General Licence without a strong burden of proof.
    I notice that Glenogil still had 10 alleged raptor crimes on the estate even after the withdrawal of grants which just shows xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxx.
    To me it seems that it is down to the will and guts of SNH.

    1. SNH aren’t responsible for withdrawal of single farm payments – that’s down to SGRPID (Scottish Govt Rural Payments & Inspections Directorate.

      But yes, in principle you are right regarding the burden of proof required for sanctions to be made.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s