Licence application for out-of-season muirburn on Leadhills Estate

Do you remember back in April, during lockdown, Scottish Greens MSP Andy Wightman secured an amendment to the Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill (Emergency Bill) that meant that ALL muirburn was banned (temporarily, until the emergency regs were revaluated on 30 Sept 2020) (see here). This temporary ban was intended to relieve pressure on emergency services, who frankly had better things to do than attend wildfires that had resulted from poorly-managed muirburning on grouse moors.

And do you remember the Leadhills (Hopetoun) Estate in South Lanarkshire? You know, Lord Hopetoun’s gaffe with it’s very very very long history of people finding illegally poisoned, shot and trapped birds of prey, illegally-set traps and poisoned baits on the estate? A history that continues and has resulted in the estate currently being the subject of a three-year General Licence restriction after Police Scotland told licensing authority SNH there was ‘clear evidence’ of ongoing wildlife crime, although insufficient evidence to identify an individual suspect (see here).

Well, that information provides the backdrop for the next few blogs about Leadhills Estate.

Jaw-dropping audacity on every level.

First of all, take a look at this. It’s an application from well-known grouse moor manager/agent Mark Osborne to SNH, made on 15th July 2020, asking for an out-of-season licence to set fire to parts of the grouse moor on Leadhills Estate.

Have a read of the licence application details, consider the necessity of the proposed work, consider the estate’s current status of being sanctioned, and consider whether it would be appropriate for SNH to approve this application.

More to come…..

UPDATE 6 October 2020: What happened next with licence application for out-of-season muirburn on Leadhills Estate (here)

UPDATE 19 October 2020: SNH considers appeal from Leadhills Estate to undertake out-of-season muirburn (here)

UPDATE 11 November 2020: SNH grants licence to Leadhills Estate for out-of-season muirburn (here)

UPDATE 13 November 2020: Political questions being asked about out-of-season muirburn licence issued to Leadhills Estate (here)

17 thoughts on “Licence application for out-of-season muirburn on Leadhills Estate”

  1. Hiding behind “ground nesting birds” for which they xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx [Ed: deleted as libellous]
    Why do they continue to think they can use this cringe-worthy transparency?
    Are we as thick as them? They obviously think so……

  2. Good grief! if burning wasn’t bad enough they intend to spray the area with weed killer.
    Purple moor-grass is a cracking plant, ideally suited to moorland and boggy habitat, and it’s another food plant for the chequered skipper, and for a number of moths, which the estate probably doesn’t know about. Why not go the whole hog and then plough and cock-up the whole place once and for all?
    I’m sure the lapwings and golden plovers will be love the fact that weed killer has been liberally applied should increase the invertebrate population ten-fold!

    1. I agree 100% but what are the chances of the clowns at SNH knowing / thinking along these lines?? May I suggest you place these facts beore the appropriate person / committee for their consideration. Requesting a written reply from them would be worthwhile. Well done.

    2. You obviously know more than me but i had similar thoughts. They are yet again trying to justify creating an unnatural habitat and claiming that the reason is for conservation.
      I am hoping someone with more knowledge than me can tell me why it is needed to kill the native grasses they don’t like, twice. And glyphosate, for fuck’s sake.

  3. If ever there was an application form that needs reconceiving/redesigning!! That there are only 3 virtusous sounding, yet spurious reason-choices for the application – conserving, research or public safety tells you all you need to know- that the approval system is limited at best, corrupt at worst. Yep and using glyphosate as well.
    Licensed ecocide.

    1. Indeed. Can you imagine what this shower would do if DGS itself was ever licensed and they were put in charge of the system? God help us.

    2. That’s because the legislation list these as reasons that the permission can be issued and it has nothing to do with NatureScot whatsoever.

      You can apply for a licence to carry out muirburn out of season to:

      conserve, restore, enhance or manage the natural environment
      conduct research
      protect public safety

      It’s all on the NatureScot site –

      Do your research before climbing on your high horse.

  4. According to the report to the Scottish Government by the independent Grouse Moor Management Group, the number of Grouse per 100 hectares in Scotland is 143.4 based on a five year average from 2014 – 2018. From the application Osborne wants to burn 50 hectares so that means he is going to all this trouble for another 71.7 Grouse! Do you think that he knows this?

    1. Yes but since there must already be grouse in this area the increase he is looking for will be a fraction of 71.7. I think this every time i see a drainage ditch on a farm. How many more sheep is this going to feed? It must be infinitesimal and the cost of the work, machinery and fossil fuel needs to be deducted.

  5. Did this go ahead i.e. did SNH kowtow to this shocker?

    I loved how you can tick the boxes for ‘grouse moor’ and ‘conservation’ (yes, Glyphosate that well known conservation chemical or is it a carcinogen, I can never remember which) under the same sections. That’s like being able to tick a ‘pacifist’ and ‘serial killer’ box at the same time.

  6. I have never set foot on this moor, but am familiar with it’s grim reputation along with one or two personalities. I wonder if these rougher areas on the Estate were formerly favoured by the much declined SEO’s? Maybe some local birdwatchers will know more about that, if they haven’t been chased off.

  7. It would have been more interesting if you could have let us have the outcome of this application. An awful lot of the time SNH and UN NATURAL ENGLAND seem to be in cahoots with these people.

  8. It states as a fact that the Leadhills Estate is deliberately destroying the countryside by the use of Glyphosate. This is an established carcinogen:

    This demonstrates their failure to be eco friendly. The shooting set clearly like to destroy life regardless of what it is.

    I note they give Sanquhar Fire Station as the nearest to the burning sites. This is some distance away and I know that access to these areas would be difficult in the event a fire gets out of control. I doubt they care.

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