General Licence restrictions on Raeshaw & Burnfoot Estates last only six days

On 4th November, we blogged about SNH’s intention to restrict the use of General Licences in two areas, in response to alleged raptor persecution incidents. The two areas included parts of the Raeshaw and Corsehope Estates in the Borders (Restriction #1), and parts of the Burnfoot and Wester Cringate Estates in Stirlingshire (Restriction #2) (see here for our earlier blog about these restrictions, and see here for SNH’s explanation for the restrictions).

The General Licence restrictions were due to begin on 13th November 2015 and run for three years. They actually only ran for six days.

SNH GL restriction 1 SUSPENSION - Copy

SNH GL restriction 2 SUSPENSION - Copy

On 19th November 2015, the General Licence restrictions were suspended in both areas until further notice, because the Estates have lodged legal appeals, as they said they would last week (see here). While the appeals are underway, the Estates can continue to use the General Licences (i.e. continue to set crow traps and Larsen traps to catch and kill corvids, continue to shoot corvids, and continue to kill lots of other stuff that falls under the remit of activities permitted under the General Licences – see here for a list).

We don’t know what the basis of the appeals are, and nor do we know the procedural process of the appeals system, but presumably SNH now has a fixed period of time to respond. If SNH decides to uphold the appeals then the General Licence restrictions will be removed. If SNH decides to stick to its original decision and impose the three-year restrictions, then the restrictions would be re-instated. However, then these Estates would be entitled to apply for a judicial review to test whether SNH has acted fairly.

Settle yourselves in for a long legal battle.

16 thoughts on “General Licence restrictions on Raeshaw & Burnfoot Estates last only six days”

  1. Since shooting estates tend to be owned by those with deep pockets (who are likely to be willing to contemplate a long legal process with all the costs that that implies) whilst funding for public bodies grows ever tighter, I wonder how much appetite Scottish Natural Heritage (or other bodies) will have for actions of this sort in the future.

  2. Will SNH contest the appeal? How long will the appeals process go on for? Will statutes of limitations come into effect before they conclude?
    Speaking as an Englishman, it’s great to see just how much an elected SNP government have made changes to wildlife legislation!

    1. Re your last paragraph…the first, Labour, administration of the scottish parliament immediately began strengthening our wildlife laws. Thats been continued by SNH..its never really been party political up here..probably because landowners are at the very least mistrusted in Scotland throughout history…the influence of the shooting lobby in the justice system is however, another matter. We have good laws , we have poor enforcement.

  3. Sorry to hi jack this comments page but can anyone tell when the gamekeeper from glenogil estate on charges of not checking snares is to appear at Forfar Sherrif Court.? I hope to attend.
    Also could anyone help me with a dilemma.I have been placing “wildlife crime aware ” posters and Police Scotland raptor crime posters on the above estate.Recently I was ” rumbled” and had a visit from the police because the estate made a complaint.I gave them a full and concise low down on the previous raptor crimes on the estate and explained that although it has obviously p****d off the lamecreepers the idea was to inform the visiting public to be aware and alert when hill walking in the area. I think the two officers were impressed by what I had to say and the visit was really as a response to the complaint and nothing more. I would not like to think that the lamecreepers have on over on me and although I will not place these posters on their land I am kind of stuck as to where I can place them.On fence posts nearby ? Farmer might complain.On telegraph poles or trees by the side of the road? Again local council might be unhappy. Any suggestions welcome and what I be charged with if I did keep putting them up especially the Police Scotland ones because it begs the question why have these posters if you cannot place where they will have the best effect.Again sorry to hi jack this comments page but I hope someone can me on this.

    1. Dave , How about attending the local community council meeting and try and get them on board.

      I note this case is the work of the sspca , Tayside seems to be completely devoid of any wildlife crime enforcement by police. It seems a bit ironic that the only wildlife investigation by the police is chasing concerned wildlife enthusiasts who are trying to inform others what is going on in that area.

      God help the Angus glens

  4. So yesterday the Wildlife crime penalties review groups report is published by the Scottish Government calling for much tougher penalties, Dr Aileen McLeod was quoted as saying
    “I will carefully consider all the recommendations and will make a further announcement on how we intend to take this work forward“.
    today a simple restriction on the use of general licenses is removed on appeal, a restriction many on here believed was a complete waste of time because it could quite easily be circumnavigated. it is quite clear McLeod is not in control, the tail is definitely wagging the dog, we are not going forward we haven’t even stalled we are going backwards under McLeod

    1. A restriction was imposed and a Decision Notice was published. You are incorrect in stating that the restriction was removed. The restriction was suspended from the date of the appeal until the appeal proceeding concludes. SNH’s Director of Policy and Advice will now make a Decision on Appeal (within four weeks of receipt of the written appeal).

      You may wish to read the ‘General Licence Restrictions: Framework for Implementing Restrictions’, it’s only four pages long.

      Click to access A1417398.pdf

      1. i don’t share your optimism, these licenses have been removed. BASC and others vowed to fight this from day one if it was implemented. SNH do not have the guts to take them on. we’ll see in four weeks time

        1. BASC and SGA are both partners in xxxxx xxxxx…. surely they will move hell on earth to ensure that the restriction is put in place? They wouldnt campaign against government policy and the aims of the partnership they have signed up to?

          Unless of course they are deceitful manipulators intent on subverting the whole process….. xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx

        2. I’m not optimistic, I was merely referring to the Framework according to which SNH’s Director of Policy and Advice makes the ‘Decision on Appeal’ within four weeks of receiving the appeal. Technically the restriction is still in place, it was only suspended.

          It’s tempting to judge this whole process based on the Framework posted on SNH’s website, which is not detailed at all, leaving a lot of room for interpretation (and arguments).

  5. As a general licence restriction is nothing more than a slap on the wrist anyway, is it worth settling ourselves in for a long battle on this particular issue? It’s a pity that raptor enthusiasts, conservationists and scientists (not just those who consider themselves elite) can’t get together, seriously discuss the issues, and address priorities and appropriate tactics to defend raptors. In no way am I criticising Raptor Persecution Scotland, which is doing an excellent job of researching the problem and raising awareness, although as I’ve said before it is profoundly disappointing that it doesn’t reach a wider audience, or receive a greater level of contribution from readers of the blog. Locally, I have tried myself to encourage greater cooperation between raptor study groups, bird clubs (including SOC) and RSPB Scotland, with very limited success due to what appear to be unnecessary and occasionally narrow-minded factional interests. I shall continue my attempts, but it is a difficult struggle and right now I don’t feel too optimistic.

    We should also be prepared to embrace animal welfare groups, well meaning people who could provide great support in legitimate, democratic, non-violent tactics to help further the cause. Right now we are not inclusive enough, and although RSPB Investigations Officers are doing excellent work, they are underfunded, and the organisation does not appear to prioritise the need for expediency in lobbying for necessary changes in legislation and penalty procedures. At the present rate of advancement, especially with anti-societal governments incrementally giving much lower priority to wildlife conservation, we could wait another hundred years to finally save the Hen Harrier.

    It is interesting that the estates involved in this case find it worthwhile to contest a three-year ban on killing crows inside their boundaries, because that’s all it amounts to. They are presumably doing so for legal precedence reasons, to stave off attempts to inflict more serious punishment in future. In practical terms all they need do to continue killing crows (a pointless exercise anyway) is to build a ring of defence around the outside of their boundary, which I suspect their neighbouring landowners would be quite happy to allow them to implement. Baited crow traps pull in scavenging crows from a wide area, eliminating at the same time what game managers like to call “peripheral blight” from neighbouring estates. There are other means of killing large numbers of crows which the keepers are undoubtedly aware of anyway, but I won’t mention them here in case I give ideas to ambitious crow-killers. A three year ban on controlling crows inside the shooting boundaries makes very little difference to crow predation on grouse stocks. The only problem for the keepers is that it reduces their by-catch of Sparrowhawks and Buzzards to kill.

    We need to return to basics somewhat and not get tied up in too much wasted time fighting detailed matters of lesser importance. For a start we could question why they are allowed to kill crows in the first place, as there is no evidence crows impact significantly on Red Grouse numbers. Any level of mortality inflicted by crows is part of a wider way of nature controlling disease in a population, and we all know the environmental costs of maintaining artificially high densities of grouse. Grouse have been hunted for a long time now, and we have arrived at a stage where the practice is no longer sustainable, if it ever was, and education is required to get this ecological message across. We also have to be realistic and seriously question why so many birdwatchers and conservationists have not signed Mark Avery’s petition to ban driven grouse shooting, which could have made a far greater impact. I believe a number of factors are to blame, but without launching another “attack” on the RSPB Council, all I’ll say is that Chris Packham has some interesting views, worth listening to, on such matters.

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