General Licence Restriction suspended on Raeshaw Estate while judicial review underway

Regular blog readers will recall that in November 2015, SNH served two General Licence Restriction Orders on the Raeshaw Estate and Burnfoot Estate in response to alleged raptor persecution crimes (see here). This was the first time these GL restriction orders had been used since they became available on 1st January 2014.

The alleged offences on Raeshaw Estate, a grouse moor near Heriot, Scottish Borders, related to ‘the illegal placement of traps’. The alleged offences on Burnfoot Estate, a grouse moor in Stirlingshire, related to ‘the poisoning of birds of prey and illegal use of traps’. No criminal prosecutions were brought for any of these offences.

The GL restriction orders were due to run for three years, from 13th November 2015 to 12th November 2018, and would restrict the killing of certain ‘pest’ species (e.g. crows) that are usually permitted under the General Licence.

However, the restriction orders initially only lasted for six days because the estates appealed the decision (see here).

On 3rd February 2016, SNH reinstated the restriction orders after dismissing the estates’ appeals (see here).

On 7th February 2016, both estates denied any wrongdoing and indicated that they would try for a Judicial Review of SNH’s decision (see here).

It now appears that one of these estates (Raeshaw) has successfully applied for a Judicial Review, which is set to be heard on 20th May 2016. A Judicial Review is not about whether the principle of applying a General Licence restriction order is fair or unfair per se, but is more about the process underlying SNH’s decision. Did SNH act lawfully and follow the right procedures when it made the decision to apply GL restriction orders to these two estates? That’s what the court will have to decide. Obviously, the result of the Judicial Review, whichever way it goes, will have implications for the future use of the GL restriction order.

Meanwhile, in another twist, the GL restriction order on Raeshaw Estate has once again been suspended while the Judicial Review is underway. It’s not clear to us who instigated this suspension. The Estate may have applied for a temporary suspension to enable the killing of ‘pest’ species at this crucial time of year. Or, SNH may have decided to temporarily suspend the restriction order for fear that, if the Judicial Review goes against them, they may be subject to a lawsuit by the Estate for loss of earnings.

SNH temp suspension of GL - Copy

The Burnfoot Estate does not appear to be directly involved in the Judicial Review, which makes sense because the decision from the Raeshaw judgement will be equally applicable to Burnfoot so two Judicial Reviews on the same subject would be a waste of money. So consequently, the General Licence restriction order on the Burnfoot Estate is still in place – they are not permitted to kill ‘pest’ species as they would have done under the General Licence. We know from a recent FoI that SNH has not received any applications for an individual licence that would permit individual gamekeepers to carry out ‘pest’ control on this estate.

Let’s hope the Judicial Review for Raeshaw on 20th May results in a timely decision and that we don’t have to wait for months on end for a pronouncement. We’re pretty sure that there are other potential General Licence restriction orders for other estates sitting in SNH’s ‘pending folder’ (at least there should be) but, understandably, SNH may be reluctant to begin proceedings while this Judicial Review is still underway.

17 thoughts on “General Licence Restriction suspended on Raeshaw Estate while judicial review underway”

  1. Off subject but i don’t suppose there is any progress on the Scottish Ministers decision about the SSPCA helping to fight wildlife crime?
    Much as i want independence i’m not going to vote for a party that blocks this option.
    The long delay makes me think a refusal is inevitable.
    If the UK votes to leave Europe there is a good case for a new referendum.
    Then with Scottish independence we can have Andy Wightman as First Minister.
    Must take my meds.

    1. No decision on the SSPCA, no decision on the Beavers, she could not make her mind up was the last update I had and now it’s beginning to look like she is going to be forced into an embarrassing U turn on the only legislation they have put together to combat wildlife Crimea, is there an election looming, could be a good time to cut the Deadwood

      1. According to RPUK:
        In February 2011, increased powers for the SSPCA was first suggested by former MSP Peter Peacock and the then Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham suggested a public consultation was in order.
        On 31 March 2014 the public consultation on increasing the SSPCA’s powers eventually happened.
        Two years and one month later no decision.
        If nothing happens before the election i’m voting Green.

            1. RISE looks interesting. Probably too radical for many but for me the environment comes first. This below is from their manifesto. They are pro-independence.

              ‘A determined programme of land reform is required to fully tackle Scotland’s social and environmental inequalities. While the Scottish Government and its predecessors have made some small, welcome steps in the right direction, mainstream politicians have been too timid in the face of opposition to land reform from big landowners. Land-owning families and absentee tax avoiders are still allowed to treat large portions of our country as their private fiefdoms.

              RISE will cap the amount of land any individual or entity can own. It will outlaw the ownership of land in tax havens, and apply this retrospectively. We will ensure that all land in Scotland is placed on a publicly searchable register within ten years and will also give tenant farmers the right to buy their land. We support plans to modernise succession law by removing the distinction between moveable and immoveable property.

              We will give communities the right to initiate Compulsory Purchase Orders for their land and will support the development of Community Enterprises (CE), self-built and co-operative housing. For many rural communities, particularly those on Scotland’s islands, the cost of workshops and premises for small businesses and self-employed people can be prohibitive. We will provide public subsidies to support CEs.
              Far too much of our land is misused. Hunting estates create conditions suited for blood-sports but not for biological diversity. We would curtail the size of these estates and begin a process of reforestation, re-wilding and re-introduction of native species. To assist in this, we call for newly re-introduced beavers to immediately be given protected status, in light of their crucial role in flood prevention.’

              1. The SNP contains a vague reference to a new agency that will manage all public land…to enable development. Do you fancy a windfarm on your nation nature reserve?

                1. The Green Manifesto is pretty bland on raptor persecution.
                  ‘Increase protection for wildlife. Scottish Greens will support legislation that prosecutes those who harm or kill wildlife, and advocate that protection is extended to all wildlife, not only rare species. We support the strengthening of current laws on hunting, so that no animal is hunted using hounds and that snaring is prohibited.’
                  They are anti TTIP and are big on Land Reform Bill.
                  Sorry for hijacking the post.

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