The draft shared policy document that forms the basis for a political alliance between the SNP and Scottish Green Party runs to a concise 51 pages.

The document has six sections , two of which relate to the climate emergency and Scotland’s natural environment. It is good to see these alongside consideration of Scotland’s place in the world, economic recovery and reform of public services, and it is difficult to imagine that a Conservative administration in England would ever give these issues such serious and prominent attention even in an alliance with Caroline Lucas(!!).

The whole document is worth reading, and if you live in Scotland you certainly should read it, to see how things may be done in Scotland in future.

After some interesting passages on land reform, forestry, aquaculture, National Parks and more, you will find yourself on the penultimate page of this pithy document and a heading of ‘species protection’.

This section starts with these words;

We will review the wider species licensing system with a view to ensuring that the law is being applied correctly and that lethal control is only licensed where the conditions required for such a licence are demonstrably being met.

I take this as being a response to Wild Justice’s legal challenges in England, Wales, and that on the cards for Northern Ireland, over these matters. It is good that the coming administration in Scotland intends to move on this, perhaps before they are forced to do so by legal action.

Further, on the same page, we read:

We agree that urgent action is needed to tackle wildlife crime and to address the environmental impacts of intensive grouse moor management.

We will support the transition to more economically and environmentally productive uses of land where appropriate and deliver the recommendations of the Grouse Moor Management Review Group as a matter of urgency, including the licensing of grouse moors.

Licensing or further regulation will cover the key areas identified in the review, including muirburn, wildlife control, the use of medicated grit and wildlife crime.

Licensing will be supported by clear penalties to encourage compliance, as well as additional effort to detect wildlife crime.

The independent taskforce to consider whether the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Scottish SPCA) should be given extra powers to investigate wildlife crime will be asked to report back by in a timeframe that will allow any changes to the Scottish SPCA powers to be delivered by legislation implementing changes to grouse and other wildlife management in the course of this parliamentary session.

There is no sign of back-sliding there and we must look forward to real progress being made on regulation of grouse shooting north of the border in complete contrast to the dead hand of DEFRA in England. Who says that politics are irrelevant in nature conservation? Nobody with their head screwed on properly!

For balance, the passage on National Parks is pretty weak and I simply don’t agree with the statement that ‘We believe that National Parks should be designated only in response to local community demand‘ as that is, to my mind, simply silly because they should be designated in response to national demand, national need and for the national benefit. The words here indicate that a new National Park will be designated by the end of this session of Parliament but also concedes that it and future National Parks may be smaller than existing ones (there are only two in the whole of Scotland) because of the artificial requirement for community support. Presumably new roads and airports and windfarms and everything else will only be built with local community support in future? I think not, and I hope not, as the essence of a national community is that you benefit overall from policies not locally. The Scottish government’s proposal’s for independence, which begin this document, won’t I assume, only be introduced if they get local support from every part of Scotland, and rightly so, because it would be silly if that were the case.


The post Grouse shooting in the shared policy programme for the Scottish government appeared first on Mark Avery.

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