Sporting estates under threat

01001A new series of “radical” land reforms in Scotland could have serious knock-on effects for stalking and game shooting estates, shooting organisations have warned.

Business rates are set to be introduced for estates in the first part of a series of measures introduced by Scotland’s new first minister Nicola Sturgeon.

It’s estimated to raise a £7m sum for government coffers – but BASC and the SGA warned this would come at the cost of businesses and tourism north of the border.

Alan Balfour, chairman of BASC’s Scottish Committee, said: “The economic and environmental significance of shooting and stalking in Scotland cannot be ignored. Scotland is often the destination of choice for shooters visiting from elsewhere in the UK and from abroad. The reintroduction of business rates, after they were scrapped in 1994, would be a step backwards.”

Colin Shedden, director of BASC Scotland, said: “Shooting and conservation go hand in hand; private sector investment and economic activity provide the public goods we all enjoy, such as our world renowned heather moorland and the equivalent of 3,900 full-time conservation employees. Successful and world-class tourist attractions and the businesses and employees that provide them should be supported rather penalised.”

A Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association spokesperson said: “We feel very strongly that creating a fairer or more socially just country does not mean taking away lifeline rural employment, which is a very real danger if the drive to change ownership patterns turns into discouragement of inward investment.

“If the present owners decide that conditions in Scotland are no longer favourable, and take their investments elsewhere, then the gamekeepers’ jobs go. That is not easy employment to replace in a small rural area which may not have the advantage of scale.”

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