Nature regulator reinstates grouse estate’s bird-kill licences following appeal

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has reinstated a grouse shooting estate’s discretionary bird-kill licences after the estate appealed the regulator’s action.

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 protects all wild birds from persecution, but general licences can be obtained from the regulator to kill and control some bird species such as carrion crows, jays and jackdaws in certain circumstances.

Last month, SNH imposed a three-year general licence restriction on Leadhills Estate following evidence provided by Police Scotland that wildlife crime had taken place on the South Lanarkshire grouse estate, including the killing of a short-eared owl, two buzzards and three hen harriers’ that were ‘shot or caught in traps’ since 2014. 

The regulator stressed that the restriction “does not infer responsibility for the commission of crimes on any individuals”. 

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Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (c.69)

In force/
Current
Legislation
England, Scotland, Wales
Published
08 May 2018

Commentary

06/02/2013 The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (Variation of Schedules A1 and 1A) (Scotland) Order 2013 (SI 2013/31) published, adding species to Schedules 1A and A1., 23/04/2015 Amending Regulations (SI 2015/1180) published.
07/07/2015 Amending Act (Planning (Wales) Act 2015) published.
09/02/2016 Amending Regulations (SI 2016/127) published.
01/05/2018 Amending Act ( Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Act 2018) published., 19/03/2019 Amending Regulations ( SI 2019/579) published.

Characteristics

Subject

Land and development Wildlife and conservation

Source

OPSI (Office of Public Sector Information)

Affected Sectors

Cross-sector Agriculture Animal Boarding and Pest Control Fishing and aquaculture Forestry Construction Conservation Land Management and Landscaping
ECM

Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (c.69)

Document Status: In force/Current

Scope: England, Scotland, Wales

Commentary:

06/02/2013 The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (Variation of Schedules A1 and 1A) (Scotland) Order 2013 (SI 2013/31) published, adding species to Schedules 1A and A1., 23/04/2015 Amending Regulations (SI 2015/1180) published.
07/07/2015 Amending Act (Planning (Wales) Act 2015) published.
09/02/2016 Amending Regulations (SI 2016/127) published.
01/05/2018 Amending Act ( Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Act 2018) published., 19/03/2019 Amending Regulations ( SI 2019/579) published.

But last week the estate, owned by Lord Hopetoun chair of the Scottish Moorland Group, appealed the licence ban, forcing the regulator to reinstate the estate’s general licences under its appeals process. 

The reinstated licences permit the estate to continue using three of its general licences until a decision is reached by SNH. This includes general licences 01 (which permits the killing of certain birds to conserve wild birds), 02 (to prevent serious damage) and 03 (to preserve public health). 

An SNH spokespersons said that the regulator's framework document sets out the "right to appeal and the lifting of restrictions" during the appeal process.

She added that appeals should take around one month to be concluded and depending on the outcome, the restriction would then be applied from the original date.

A Holyrood report on the environmental impacts of grouse moors was submitted to government last month by the Grouse Moor Management Group, but its findings have not yet been published.

Challenges to the legality of general licences in England were brought by Chris Packham’s legal outfit Wild Justice this year. In September, DEFRA launched a review into how its discretionary bird-kill regime was being used.

Leadhills Estate has been contacted for comment.

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