BASC issues warning to Minister ahead of final Grouse Bill debate

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) has issued a letter to Jim Fairlie, Scotland’s Minister for Agriculture and Connectivity, urging for further amendments to be made at the final stage of the Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill.

It comes as the Bill nears the final stage of a debate on March 19 in Holyrood.

Throughout the course of the Bill, BASC has been lobbying MSPs to make the necessary changes to the legislation to deem it ‘workable’ for its members.

The organisation secured changes to the Bill, which have improved its overall standing compared to when it was initially introduced several months ago. This includes the elimination of the excessive suspension powers concerning Section 16AA grouse shoot licenses and an extension to licence duration.

However, the Bill remains in an impractical position for BASC members, given its provisions which inhibit muirburn and other practices.

The letter sets out key red lines where the shooting and conservation organisation wants to see movement:

  • The retention of humane cable restraints, vital for predator control and biodiversity, to be retained under a licence
  • The removal of draconian powers which could add further gamebird species to the shoot licence list
  • The removal of the clause expanding the SSPCA’s powers
  • The narrowing of the scope of ‘relevant offences’ which can determine the suspension or revocation of a licence
  • The removal of the 40cm peat depth criteria for determining peatland and non-peatland, related to muirburn licences.

If the Bill passes without these changes being made, the organisation has stated it could mount a legal challenge depending on the final outcome.

BASC Scotland director Peter Clark said:

‘Throughout the entire process of this Bill, BASC has been at the forefront of leading the necessary changes to ensure sustainable grouse moor management can continue.

‘This letter makes reasonable and well-evidenced requests to the Minister ahead of the final debate, to ensure the Bill does not hinder that management.

‘From the ban on snares to the inclusion of more powers for the SSPCA, we see a Bill that is still unworkable and disproportionate for our sector.

‘This letter sends a clear message to the Minister – this Bill cannot pass in its current state’.