Last November, the Scottish Government finally reached the end of its tether with the criminality and environmental damage associated with driven grouse shooting and announced its intention to bring in a licensing scheme for grouse shooting estates (see here).
In response, the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) went in to an enraged meltdown and announced its members would hold a protest (or at least localised protests as Covid restrictions prevented a gathering at Holyrood), although it wasn’t clear what, exactly, they would be protesting about – they just seemed furious about the idea of a scheme that would mean a licence could be withdrawn if criminal activities were detected – (see here).
Since we’re all in another period of lockdown, even localised protests are out of the question and so now the SGA is planning an online protest instead. An article in yesterday’s Sunday Times revealed more details:
The online protest is set for 19th March 2021 and it seems the SGA is trying to drum up support from various industries, to come under the banner of a ‘Rural Workers’ Protest’. Look out for the hashtag #RWP21 on social media.
According to this article, the reasons for protesting include what the SGA calls ‘anti-rural measures pursued by the SNP and the Green Party’, and claims that the sector ‘has not had a fair deal from this parliament’.
Interestingly, amongst all the reasons given by the SGA for wanting to protest, grouse moor licensing does not feature explicitly in this article. The nearest the SGA gets is to complain about the Government’s alleged ‘unwillingness to manage or address predation’ and ‘curbs on muirburn’.
In response, the Scottish Government is reported to have said that it ‘did not recognise the claims being made’. In addition, Mark Ruskell MSP from the Scottish Greens said:
“Many more rural jobs could be created if we banned the cruel practice of grouse shooting and used the land in other ways, to restore our forests and peatlands to tackle the climate emergency“.