Skip to content

Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill - Stage 2 Amendments

The first Rural Affairs and Islands Committee meeting to discuss the Wildlife Management and Muirburn Bill at Stage 2 has now been delayed until Wednesday 7 February. We have summarised the amendments received so far.

A number of amendments were submitted to outline a cost recovery system for licensing - we assume charged by NatureScot and payable by the applicant for muirburn, grouse shooting, and trap operator licences. We worked with MSPs and submitted our own amendments that would remove the charge for any wildlife management licences under this Bill, since any granted licence would be of public benefit and the applicant should not be financially penalised as a result. It is likely our amendments won’t be supported by the SNP / Green coalition as the Greens will push for full cost recovery, and the SNP, as they have in the past, will concede to retain political support from their partners. Any cost to the applicant in the future should not be disproportionate and should take into consideration individual circumstances.

Licence fees are an additional cost burden for grouse shooting operators and land managers. They may also be required to undertake additional approved training courses for muirburn and trap operations, as stated in the Code of Practice as amended by this bill. The costs for these courses, it has been suggested, should not be more than £200.

A register maintained by the Scottish Government, most likely NatureScot, of approved muirburn licensees and notice of muirburn activities has been suggested. Anyone undertaking muirburn on their land should comply with the Muirburn Code and will have successfully completed an approved training course.

The length of time for granting a 16AA licence has been suggested as a minimum of a 5 years duration. We will see today if this is accepted, but it would be a significant step forward, away from seasonal or annual licensing.

Minister Gillian Martin has submitted amendments to ban the use of snares, but has indicated that anyone caught tampering, disarming, or destroying legally set traps, will be committing an offence. Additional supplementary powers for inspectors (we assume this will be the Scottish SPCA) for evidence-gathering purposes have been put forward as an amendment to the Bill.

A significant part of the bill that has now been accepted is how a suspension of any licence to shoot grouse can be initiated. Whereas mere suspicion and the start of a police investigation could have halted any and all grouse shooting, it has now been clarified (after significant pressure by our organisations) that a suspension can only be initiated if NatureScot is satisfied that a relevant offence has taken place on the licenced ground and by someone who is directly involved with that ground / licence. This is also a significant step forward, and a point that should ensure that shooting can continue unless a relevant offence has been committed.

You can watch the committee meeting live here on Wednesday 7 February.

Become a member

Join the Countryside Alliance

We are the most effective campaigning organisation in the countryside.

  • life Protect our way of life
  • news Access our latest news
  • insurance Benefit from insurance cover
  • magazine Receive our magazine