The face of ‘modern landownership’ in Scotland

This is a belter. Surely inspired by the Gloria Gaynor classic, a Scottish estate owner has erected signs on his land telling the RSPB they’re ‘not welcome’.

Go on now go

Walk out the door

Just turn around now

‘Cause you’re not welcome anymore

John Mackenzie, who owns the massive Gairloch and Conon Estates, said he’d put up the signs because:

It is years of frustration and anger boiling over. Landowners, farmers and gamekeepers have always been an easy target, blamed by the society [RSPB] for the poisoning and shooting of raptors“.

Er, wouldn’t that have something to do with the fact that the majority of those convicted for poisoning and shooting raptors are, erm, gamekeepers working on shooting estates?

He went on to say he was “irritated” to find out that the RSPB had been “driving around looking at things themselves“. How dare they!

Ironically, the Conon Estate is close to the area where 22 raptors were found dead last spring in what has been termed the Ross-shire Massacre – 16 of them confirmed illegally poisoned (still no information on the other six).

Poor old Laird MacKenzie. He knows he can’t stop the RSPB, or anyone else for that matter, accessing his land, but he thought he’d stick up his signs anyway. Bless.

We wonder how his actions fit in with the recently launched Landowners Charter? Prepared by Scottish Land & Estates and published last September, this charter ‘sets out a commitment to the principles and responsibilities of modern landownership in Scotland’. The ‘four pillars’ of this charter are for landowners to be open, inclusive, enabling and responsible.

Not rude, arrogant, intolerant and stupid, then?

Bring on the land reform.

Article in Daily Mail here

Article in Daily Telegraph here

Article on BBC news website here

23 thoughts on “The face of ‘modern landownership’ in Scotland”

  1. Yes, Bring it on. The days when landowning is all about rights and not about responsibilities don’t belong in the 21st century. As a group, too many of them seem to have been singularly unwilling to learn the lesson called ‘environmental stewardship’.

  2. Is the Gairloch part of this estate the place where we wasted tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayer’s money ‘discovering’ that white-tailed eagles didn’t eat quite as many lambs as crofters complained about – or that the ‘predation’ could be prevented by attaching a black plastic cigarette packet sized box to the lambs.

    Does this sort of public exposure carry any currency with other landowners? It seems to me to be towards the end of the spectrum with ‘rantings of someone who’s lost it’.

    At a time when land reform is on the political agenda and quite high too – it can only do the big landowners no favours at all. Which is fine by me.

  3. Curious one this it seems to me. This is the guy whose estate received millions of tax payers money to plant trees around Gairloch. ” It will be wide open for all and sundry to come along and enjoy it”. Having seen this planting I’m not knocking it by any means , it just seems odd that he would develop such an antipathy to the RSPB when he had such sympathy to Scottish wildlife back in 2003. It may be that he has transferred that sympathy to the endangered species of gamekeepers and sporting estate owners.

      1. Of course. But do you not think the entire statement is telling as the land was ALREADY traditionally wide open, indeed I believe that tradition was ratified in law in 2003 when he made that statement. I’m in the sundry camp by the way.

  4. Quote:
    “Ironically, the Conon Estate is close to the area where 22 dead raptors were found dead last spring in what has been termed the Ross-shire Massacre – 16 of them confirmed poisoned (still no information on the other six).

    What a coincidence, strange that isn’t it, who’d have thought it. Makes you wonder though doesn’t it ???

  5. Quote from the Telegraph article:
    “Mr Mackenzie claimed there are no capercaillies left in Forsinard, one of Europe’s largest expanses of blanket bog, because the charity refuses to kill foxes but the birds are flourishing on neighbouring private estates where vermin are controlled.

    That’s a load of cobblers for a start, there have never been any Capercaillies at Forsinard in all the 40 odd years I’ve been recording birds in that area, the statement in the quote gives a clue, Europe’s largest expanses of blanket bog, not many trees there !!!

  6. This is ‘news’ according to the BBC, Telegraph and Mail: ‘bigot puts up sign’.
    RPS uncovers many more important stories which are routinely ignored by the press.
    The landowners/gamekeeper lobby are waging a PR war not dissimilar to the climate change denialists and the press lap it up.

  7. Hi

    There is a comment on the Telegraph article (RSPB not welcome)

    But what does covert CCTV coverage reveal when used at the nesting sites of protected birds? Over 50 hen harriers killed by predators on Skye alone 2009-12. Three hen harriers out of only three breeding pairs in England, killed by predators this year. And zero evidence of any illegal killing by game shooting interests, only one occasion of human disturbance, even, on Skye, in three years.

    towards the bottom by Monro.

    Do you have any information on the comments he makes. I have nothing to respond with.


    1. Ignore him, to that way madness lies; he comments on every anti-raptor/RSPB article and is a pro-shooting troll.

      That article from Skye ( describes failures of 47 of 88 nests “with predation the most likely cause….. 65%of failures being attributed to foxes.” So a third of failures weren’t due to foxes and 50% of nests were successful. I’m no expert but sounds like an ecosystem and a predator-prey relationship to me. I’d be happy with those nesting rates on my local grouse moors.

      “50 HH killed by on Skye alone 2009-12”; nonsense; the article doesn’t say that.

      There were 4, not 3, breeding pairs of HHs in England in 2014.

      The 3 English HHs he refers to weren’t killed by predators; they were a late brood and died from disease (

      It’s no use trying to reason with him; he makes the CA sound reasonable.

    2. It took me a while to realise your whole post is referring to a comment by someone called Munro on the telegraph article.
      I don’t know his source but if taken as reliable, i don’t see what his argument is. So what if that is the situation on Skye which as far as I know is not a grouse shooting area. Predators are obviously higher on non grouse shooting moors because of lack of mammalian predator control by gamekeepers.

      If he is saying that Hen Harriers are failing on grouse moors primarily because of predators it is just plain wrong because then grouse moors should have more Hen Harriers than non-shooting areas because of the control of predators by gamekeepers.
      Which is the opposite of the real world.

      The English Hen Harriers are hardly statistically valid. Those 3 Hen Harrier pairs were watched around the clock to PREVENT human interference so it can’t be used as evidence of lack of persecution.
      Predation of ground nesting birds is not anything new. I want to see wildlife find its own balance not one dictated by the shooting lobby purely for sport.

      I scanned the thread you refer to. I try to avoid replying to comments by bigoted idiots. It is a trap which is easy to fall in. Because their comments are idiotic it is very tempting to correct them but the type of people who make idiotic comments are impossible to reason with.

    3. Aye, this Monro person is an absolute imbecile. I had a lengthy debate with this buffoon, on an article (just one, mind!) on the Telegraph website, and had to put him in his place.

      As others have mentioned, it is impossible to reason with such deeply bigoted people, and sadly this person is only too typical of the vociferous protectors of criminal activity within the game-shooting set.

  8. Monro – surely this is the same who has monopolised similar topics on Mark Avery site and been offered a guest blog or shut up, with no take up!

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