The UK’s shooting and conservation organisations have given advice to Scottish estates after the news that the Scottish Government intends to reintroduce non-domestic rates for shoots in Scotland with warnings of adverse consequences.
The Land Reform (Scotland) Bill will scrap shoots’ current taxation relief, starting from April 2017. The intention of removing these domestic rates, which were introduced in 1995, was to raise £10 million per year from sporting rates to fund community land ownership. However, other land management industries such as farming and forestry will continue to benefit from tax relief.
Colin Shedden of BASC Scotland said: “Country sports tourism is a key economic driver in rural Scotland and it would be regrettable if the reintroduction of non-domestic rates was to disadvantage Scotland as a world-class destination.”
Alex Hogg, chairman of the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association said, “Good can come from land reform but we must ensure that working people are not caught in the crosshairs. We will continue to engage with Scottish Government on how the new ratings systems will work, with a view to preserving fragile employment.”
David Johnstone, chairman of Scottish Land & Estates warned against the “huge impact” of the taxation of shooting estates, where profit margins are small, and the consequences of imposing financial hardships on Scotland’s private estates: “You are going to get environmental losses when you start to break up estates, you will have businesses fragmented into their parts. The sum of their parts is greater than the individuality of them.”