Your chance to change the face of Scotland

A guest post by Max Wiszniewski with an open invitation to those attending the SNP conference to come along to Revive’s (The Coalition for Grouse Moor Reform) fringe meeting.

Your chance to change the face of Scotland

An estimated 12-18% of Scotland is managed for grouse shooting causing untold suffering to much of our wildlife and known damage to our environment – flying in the face of the climate emergency declared by Nicola Sturgeon. The circle of destruction surrounding grouse moors is reason enough to take action, but the economics don’t stack up either.

For all the land they use up the grouse shooting industry contributes just 0.02% to Scotland’s overall economy (GVA). To put this into perspective if Scotland’s economy was the Empire State Building, then grouse shooting would be around the size of an average baguette (turned upright).

Members of the Scottish National Party have been at the forefront of the land reform movement in recent years but even today, too many of our people live fear and intimidation as a powerful few still dominate around half of Scotland. It’s time to finish the work we’ve started.

Revive: the coalition for grouse moor reform will be hosting a fringe meeting at SNP conference this coming Monday in Aberdeen to show how taking radical but completely necessary action on grouse moors is so imperative in this time of climate crisis.

Much of Scotland will be set on fire in a process called muirburn which is designed to increase the number of grouse for sport shooting – threatening our vital peat reserves which store more carbon than all the UK’s forests several times over.

The momentum for radical reform has grown with many thousands of people joining the campaign from across Scotland and the SNP membership will be a crucial driver of what’s to come.

The way we use our land and who owns it will be of central importance to achieving a ‘Green New Deal’ Scotland. If you’re going to SNP conference it would be great to see you there and hear your thoughts on how we can drive this change together.

When we stop using so much of our land to maximise the population of one bird for sport-shooting we can help Scotland thrive. When we succeed our people, our wildlife and the environment will all be better for it.

Many thanks,

Max Wiszniewski

Max Wiszniewski is Campaign Manager for Revive. Revive is a coalition of like-minded organisations working for reform of Scotland’s grouse moors. The coalition is made up by Common Weal, Friends of the Earth Scotland, League Against Cruel Sports Scotland, OneKind, and Raptor Persecution.

SNP Fringe event – 12.30pm, Monday 14 October

Where: Conference Suite 2A, Event Complex Aberdeen

Facebook Event/SNP conference link: https://www.facebook.com/events/500896127309201/

Twitter: @ReviveCoalition

Website: https://www.revive.scot/

19 comments on “Your chance to change the face of Scotland

  1. Andy Anderson says:

    Interesting. I am not an SNP member so cannot attend.

    What would for make land owners make better commercial use of their land would be a land tax such as annual ground rent. Possibly increasing employment.

    And like today that tax could be of reduced for areas that are left for environmental reasons similar to ‘set aside’ now.

  2. Stuart MacKay says:

    If anyone is interested in the environmental carnage caused by driven grouse shooting you can find a lot of info on the following blogs:

    https://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/

    https://markavery.info/blog/

    The current Scottish Government has a rather mixed record on this subject. There is the long, long awaited Werritty Review on the industry in Scotland which might end up as rather a damp squib rather than root and branch reform. Then there is the rather interesting connection between Scottish Natural Heritage and the grouse shooting industry, The former was happy to sanction a large scale cull of ravens just to see what happens. The main proponent of which was a collection of grouse shooting interests.

    So good to see that there is some activity at the conference. Would be nice if this ramped up the pressure and on this subject brought Scotland out of the Victorian age and into the 21st century.

  3. Millsy says:

    Long overdue ! Land reform is a priority for an Independent Scotland .

    We MUST introduce a Land Tax and NO ONE who is not resident in Scotland should be allowed to own more than a piece of land sufficient to build a home ( not a Balmoral-sized home ! ); nor should the identity of land owners be secret . That would be a good start !

  4. Heartsupwards says:

    What way will this land be used when grouse is no longer the predominant concern?

  5. m biyd says:

    There’s quite a lot of estates around me in rural Perthshire/Angus. i think its easy to forget that there is plenty of grouse shooting in the lowlands. i have to say in fairness to my local estates they tend to be an integrated part of the local farming structure and social life with horse trials, fairs, proms and grouse shooting is only a part of the agri-business they practice and the land management is pretty high. They also tend to be much more open to land access. I suspect the issue is more to do with the more remote highland estates that tend to be mono culture.

    • Terry callachan says:

      I do not agree
      Grouse shooting and other hunting should be banned completely it’s ridiculous in this modern day to have people going around the countryside shooting guns

    • Stuart MacKay says:

      The main problem is the economics of driven grouse shooting. The estates rely on intensive management and a high density of grouse to generate large bags for the large fees they charge customers. Harriers, falcons, eagles, foxes, stoats, mountain hares, etc. on grouse moors are completely at odds with that since they all disrupt grouse shooting interests through disturbance, predation, spread of disease etc. The problem is that Hen Harriers, Golden Eagles, Peregrine Falcons are all species protected under the law. So we have an industry which can only survive through rampant and systematic law-breaking.

      It needs a complete ban so the land can be used for the lawful enjoyment of the countryside by the people of Scotland and not by the few who enjoy destroying wildlife for entertainment.

      • Terry callachan says:

        Well said
        And our coastline which is huge should be available to people in Scotland so they can build a wee house or holiday home the Europeans do it so well but here in Scotland we are crammed into a few cities our young folk unable to buy a house for themselves let alone a wee place on the coast to holiday in so they either have to stay at home with parents into their thirties or pay huge rents and any wee towns in the coast have been ruined by holiday home owners who do not live in Scotland .
        It’s all part of the plan by Westminster to keep us in Scotland poor and isolated
        Kept poor so we can’t plan and progress
        ie young folk can’t get on the housing ladder
        Isolated so we can’t see how much better off a lot of our neighbours in Europe are
        A very small destination choice from Scottish airports forcing us to fly from England
        No ferries to Europe again forcing us to sail from England

        Owning our land is crucial to freedom of the people
        It’s not something that should be for sale in huge areas
        People should not be able to own more than they need to live on and people who live overseas should not be allowed to own land in Scotland
        Sure they can run a business in Scotland but the land on which it is situated rightly belongs to the people of Scotland

    • Max von Linton says:

      There is precisely NO grouse shooting in the lowlands. This is because grouse shooting requires grouse, which avoid the soft lowland life. You may be thinking of pheasant shooting – a branch of the shooting industry with its very own unique set of utterly appalling behaviours. But grouse shooting it ain’t.

  6. Go get ’em, guys.
    There is no excuse for this privileged nonsense.
    It is our land, not the Divine Right of Robber Barons and billionaires.

  7. Daisy Walker says:

    Many of the grouse moor estates are run at a ‘tax deductible’ ‘loss’.

    The mass cull of the mountain hares on the mountain is to ensure the eagles don’t have a natural food supply.

    The landowners are very well co-ordinated in presenting their case, and lobbying for same. Care takers of the countryside is a common theme. However the billionaires who own the estates are not doing it so that they can all operate in a cohesive manner/best practice – it is very much their personal fiefdom and no-one should forget it.

    Most assuredly the land should be registered so the owner/person responsible can be identified.

    • Bob Lamont says:

      Agreed, and taxed with zero exceptions or offsets….
      This is the greater problem, land was first and foremost a tax efficient savings pot for those who favoured HMG with votes, little if any reform to that resulted for obvious reasons over centuries. Likewise land-banking became a recent lucrative side industry driving property prices through the roof, it wasn’t home-owners who gained…
      Regulation and taxation is key, the rest will follow…

  8. Brilliant wee video of impact on the land over at Common Space – sorry no links on this gizmo

  9. bedelsten says:

    The Scottish Government’s Grouse Moor Management Group, which was established in November 2017 to examine the environmental impact of grouse moor management practices such as muirburn, the use of medicated grit and mountain hare culls, and advise on the option of licensing grouse shooting businesses, planned to submit its report during the summer (of 2019) at which point the report will have disappeared into the pending basket. The Scottish Government seems to have no appetite to rattling the bars of the landed gentry – this could just be window dressing.

    There appears to be five options:
    1. Do nothing at all
    2. Carry out a few, piecemeal bits of regulation tightening
    3. Develop a coherent regulatory system for the existing industry – a ‘licensing scheme’
    4. Seek comprehensive reform of the entire hunting culture/system and its entire legal framework
    5. Instigate some form of complete ban of grouse shooting – at least in its highly intensive ‘driven’ form.
    (See RSPB grouse moor licensing our thoughts – there is an interesting pdf about licencing)

    Or put the review out to consultation and then refile under pending.

    If you take a plane from pretty well any Scottish airport and manage to grab a window seat on a clear day it is possible to view from above the desertification of grouse moor monocultures – strange strips on the hillside and, in early spring, the smoke haze rising from more strips being burnt off. The whole setup, especially putting sheep on hills in theory to mop up ticks but, probably, only there for the hill sheep grant and to maintain a pretence of a farming environment, then shooting all the hares, in theory because they have ticks but probably because they invite raptors, then burning the heather in strips so the the grouse can hide in the long heather and eat the young heather but is a process which leads to a drastic restriction in biodiversity and is, therefore, a bad thing.

    Heather moorland is not necessarily the natural succession state on a hillside. Occasionally you will come across a hillside where one landowner has deer fenced off the side of a hill and allowed the land to regenerate naturally. On one side of the fence silver birches first, then rowans, pines, maybe bog myrtle, hazels and other trees appear followed by bird life and then small mammals and then a buzzard or two. Other side of the fence an unnatural managed desert of heather, bog and more heather with a sad silence in the air.

    Heartsupwards asks: What way will this land be used when grouse is no longer the predominant concern?

    The Werritty Review does not have within its remit recommending an alternative use for grouse moors. The best that can be hoped for is that it recommends a licencing environment which makes the current practices of driven grouse shooting impracticable. What the landowners then do with their land is, sort of, up to them though it is possible that the next round of forestry grant aid, where the land owner gets paid (sorry, gets grants) to deer-fence off land then plant trees will become a more attractive proposition.

    Or maybe there will be no change – the Scottish Government is feart.

    Apologies if it appears that I have a bee in my bonnet. The bee will have been on the heather.

    • Terry callachan says:

      You are right I agree with all you say bedelsten
      I think the Scottish government are not willing to introduce new laws because they fear the knock on effect of them having to find money from a budget that is controlled by Westminster and in pretty sure many of the landowners in Scotland either work in Westminster of have business ties
      Once we are independent we should make sure this is near the top of the list to sort out

  10. Helen Smith says:

    It’s high time for change – for environmental, economic and animal welfare reasons. Don’t be feart, SNP – Scotland’s land should be for Scotland’s people and willdife. it should not be ringfenced and sterilised to satisfy the bloodlust of the privileged few.

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