Scottish Greens not giving an inch on grouse moor licensing regime

A week ago the Scottish Government finally announced that it had run out of patience with the grouse shooting industry and that it would begin work immediately to bring in a licensing regime for grouse moor management (see here).

[Grouse-shooting butt on a burnt Scottish moor, photo by Ruth Tingay]

Many of the details of the proposed licensing regime are yet to be thrashed out and consultations will need to take place but the commitment has been made that, if the SNP is re-elected in May 2021 then this licensing regime will be enacted during the next Parliament.

The Scottish Greens reacted to last week’s news with a healthy scepticism (see here) and that is reflected in these very welcome Parliamentary questions lodged two days ago by Mark Ruskell MSP:

19 thoughts on “Scottish Greens not giving an inch on grouse moor licensing regime”

  1. Well done the Greens. Let’s hope they still hold the balance of power after next year’s election. Good to see Ruskell keeping a very close eye on the British Association for Shagging and Chastity.

  2. I like the question on mountain hares. If the SNP government were serious surely it would implement an immediate ban on hare killing.

  3. All very pertinent questions and thanks to Mark Russell for asking them.. I will not hold my breadth for concise answers..

  4. I have still to read the Green’s healthy scepticism. Nevertheless everyone who has a desire to see the hideous abuse of wildlife and land corrected has a cast iron reason to to be ultra sceptical of the SG’s terminological inexactitudes.

    Sparkling pledges will flow ahead of next year’s political jamboree. However, lack of precise detail will be evident. Carrots will be dangled to get votes, but if elected what is delivered will be very sweet. As sweet as fudge because it will be a fudge.

    The SG’s pinpoint intentions (no drivel about having negotiations with the usual suspects & co.) have to be written in tablets of stone before they are given another opportunity to prevaricate and fabricate.

  5. I was’nt fooled by the SG’s promise last week. Like others on this blog we’ve long predicted nothing will happen regarding Werrity until after the May elections. That’s another 6 months in the long grass. Then the consultations follow. How long will they drag on? And consulting with whom! By the time the SGA & SLE have had their say licensing could end up being as ineffective as vicarious liability, general licence restrictions, beaver protection, mountain hare protection or the Cairngorm Special Constables. The SG have a poor track record. Yes the other parties have done zilch in the past but the issue was very low profile back then. In the 10+ year since this blog commenced raptor persecution is rightly very high profile. The present government has repeatedly failed to address the problem. Though I have always believed and still do that both Mairi and Roseanna are sincere In their desire to crack down on raptor persecution they have political obligations which have priority. Independence is inevitable, meaniful protection of raptors is not. That’s why next May I’ll be voting SGP.

  6. They are right to be sceptical we’ve seen many grand statements before conferences making big promises quietly shelved or watered down wait and see what happens before we celebrate

    1. Yes, we have all seen this situation many times. When people have a burning desire to see an improvement it is all too easy to hear welcome words then relax one’s guard. That is human nature, but it is often fatal.

      The SG’s track record is paved with fine words and little else. The crime and land abuse continues unabated.

      Stay alert and judge ONLY by achievements.

      “One swallow does not a summer make, nor one fine day”

  7. It is good to see the Scottish Green Party have picked up on the fact that the Scottish Government have already declared that the DGS industry will be heavily represented during the process to decide how the licensing scheme will work; and yet no mention has been made of including representation from conservation side, such as the RSPB or Revive; or even the legal profession who will have to adjudicate on any breaches of the terms of the proposed licences.

    We already know that those involved in DGS aren’t entering into the licensing scheme voluntarily.
    From the statements already made by the various bodies representing the interests of the DGS industry, they have unquestioningly declared licensing as an unnecessary attack on grouse shooting, rural communities, their members and land ownership rights etc.

    Even the most naïve would probably be able to realise that all these bodies representing DGS will present a case for the licensing scheme to be as little impactive on the current state of affairs as possible .

    Surely the Scottish government have the wit to realise just what a complete shambles the Westminster government made of the Hunting Act – legislation which which was supposed to make fox hunting illegal and yet by the time it arrived on the statute books, made prosecution of illegal hunting a complete nightmare, with more “get out of jail cards” than a game of monopoly!

    There is a real risk that unless the Scottish government start with the assumption that licensing is necessary because until now there has been no real decline in the persecution and illegal killing of birds of prey, that within the DGS industry are those who are quite prepared to engage in illegal and environmentally damaging activity, and that the views of the DGS have to be counter balanced with views from the various conservation NGO’s. Then there is a distinct possibility any licensing scheme could be as ineffective as the Hunting Act in delivering its stated intentions.

    So it is very encouraging to see the Greens ask these questions of the Scottish Government.
    Depending on the answers, then those who live in Scotland should also be prepared to continue putting pressure on their SMP’s to ensure licensing isn’t simply a legislative process to enable to the status quo to continue.

    There has to be agreement by all sides that any licensing scheme will be able to deliver meaningful sanctions. Sanctions that are capable as acting as an efficient and effective deterrent to those who won’t play by the rules, and yet are able to avoid criminal prosecution for their suspicious and illegal activities because the burden of proof is unattainable.

    I am not sure I can trust the various bodies representing DGS to adopt this position??

    1. The SG have ‘form’ on talking the talk and not walking the walk John – remember Andy Wightman’s ‘hill track amendment’: voted with the Tories, half-hearted action on protecting mountain hares and others species and voted with the Tories against the Green’s ‘Nature emergency’ etc. I am deeply sceptical.

      I utterly oppose DGS licensing on principle; it really is/was a massive mistake as a campaign strategy. You are right to point to the hunting with dogs laws and my forecast is that we’ll end up with something analogous to ‘trail hunting’ (i.e. fox hunting) for the grouse killers i.e. a worse situation than we have now as it will be afforded the protection of a license.

  8. Well done Mr Ruskell. Keep asking the awkward questions and make sure that the SNP answer them in full if possible. Especially that of the shooting of mountain hares.

  9. Would Revive consider an online conference to discuss the proposed licences? Its important that we evaluate the scope and look for potential for loop holes so that we can brief those who will drawing up the system.
    I am sure that the “killing for fun” lobying groups will be doing this and starting to whisper into ears……

      1. Well hopefully they’ll be pushing for covert surveillance to be baked into the system in such a way that any evidence obtained thereby is admissible.

        1. Indeed Dave, with whatever dog’s breakfast of DGS licensing system we end up with, without simplified, admissible, evidence gathering and, crucially, rigorous ENFORCEMENT (highly unlikely IMO) licensed DGS will look remarkably like, er, DGS.

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