Alasdair Laing: Potential is there to make grouse shooting a real growth sector

The amount of money generated by grouse shooting and the number of jobs it supports are significant numbers in their own right.

But perhaps even more relevant is the fact the money is going into otherwise often fragile rural areas where there are not a lot of alternative jobs, employment opportunities or sources of income.

A medium-sized grouse moor costs 100,000-150,000 a year to run. A high proportion of the wages are spent in the local area and the people coming in to shoot stay in hotels and use other services. This helps sustain rural communities and local services such as the school, pub and shop.

At the same time, the significant investment focused on grouse shooting is also producing a lot of spin-off benefits in conservation and environmental terms.

But we still need help from the policy-makers to provide a better understanding of, and to get some innovative thinking in, things like the conservation benefit of existing practices and predator management measures.

We have to continue to discuss with them the powers that are necessary to get the benefits grouse shooting is giving the country as a whole.

At present, just over half the potential heather moor in Scotland is actively managed as grouse moor.

If we could get the right atmosphere to encourage inward investment in the other half, that would obviously significantly increase the economic benefit.

People come to Scotland not just to shoot but for the experience, the scenery and the hospitality.

There is more than adequate demand and a scarcity of quality shooting. If we could get more moorland under grouse management, there is genuine potential for greater economic growth.

• Alasdair Laing is the owner of the 9,000-acre Lochindorb Estate, near Grantown-on-Spey.

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