The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016, one of the more controversial pieces of legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament, came into force on 22 April 2016. Part 6 of the Act repeals the exclusion of shootings and deer forests from the Ratings Valuation Roll established by the Conservative Government in the 1990s.

Announcing her intentions Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said: “The move will bring an end to business rate exemptions for shooting and deer stalking estates, which were put in place by the Tories in 1994 to protect the interests of major landowners”.

As the sporting season starts in earnest the long awaited Scottish Assessors Practice Note on these sporting rates has been released, with letters of notice being posted out to all landowners on any holding which has a sporting potential.

Scottish Countryside Alliance Director, Jamie Stewart, said:

“Faced with an almost impossible task the Scottish Assessors have elected to focus on area of sporting potential and buildings taxation, as opposed to species harvested, leaving all land taxable whether or not it is used for sporting purposes. Rural businesses and landowners need to be proactive in their paperwork, and where applicable submit an appeal within the available time period. Whilst the full impact of the rates will not be known until all appeals have been lodged, there are a number of reliefs available and we expect the majority of valuations to fall into this category.

“We are frustrated with a range of the charges deemed applicable, particularly in the doubling or in some cases tripling of the rate where multiple species are present and shot by different tenants. Equally, little or no encouragement has been offered to those actively managing deer to reduce numbers as extraordinary culling measures is not considered likely to be discounted, unless managers can demonstrate a significantly lower level of value from the harvest.

“The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016 has been seen by many as a cynical attempt by the Scottish National Party to break up large sporting estates. However, the re-introduction of sporting rates may have unintended consequences for many who manage our wild and beautiful landscape, with limited revenue raised.”

Peter Chapman MSP, Shadow Minister for the Rural Economy said in the Times newspaper:

“Sporting rates were an ill thought through policy. Shooting makes a significant contribution to Scotland’s society, economy and environment, so we cannot afford to see this suffer.”

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For further information please contact your local assessor’s office or email the Alliance’s Campaign for Shooting team at [email protected].