Further to yesterday’s blog where it was revealed that earlier this summer, Mark Osborne, the agent/manager at Leadhills Estate had applied to SNH for an out-of-season muirburn licence to allow him to set fire to parts of the grouse moor after being sprayed with toxic glyphosate (see here), here’s what happened next.
[Setting fire to the grouse moors at Leadhills in previous years. Photo by Ruth Tingay]
SNH’s licensing department sent Osborne’s 2020 licence application to other members of staff for their comments. It’s interesting to note that Leadhills Estate applied for a similar licence in 2019 but this was refused, for reasons not yet known. Those documents have been requested from SNH via a Freedom of Information request but haven’t yet arrived.
It’s not known how many members of staff were invited to comment on Osborne’s 2020 licence application, or from which departments, because SNH has chosen to hide some internal correspondence on this issue (for example, there is no indication in the material released under a Freedom of Information request that Leadhills Estate’s status of being subject to a General Licence restriction for ongoing wildlife crime was even considered at this stage) but the following response was given by SNH’s Uplands and Peatlands Officer, who, alarmingly, doesn’t seem to think there’s any issue in principle with spraying the grouse moor with glyphosate and then setting fire to it, but does argue that this could be undertaken during the muirburn season (starts 1st Oct) and doesn’t require a special out-of-season licence:
Subsequently, SNH decided to refuse this latest licence application and notified Osborne on 14 August 2020 as follows:
On 18th August 2020 Osborne appealed the decision, stating that the glyphosate spraying had already been undertaken:
On 21st August 2020 SNH wrote back to Osborne to say they were treating his appeal as a formal complaint. Osborne wrote back the same day and said he wasn’t making a formal complaint, he was appealing SNH’s decision to refuse the out-of-season muirburn licence:
More to come on this saga…..
UPDATE 19th October 2020: SNH considers appeal from Leadhills Estate to undertake out-of-season muirburn (see here)