Crofters’ goose budget is cooked

Farmers and crofters on some of Scotland’s fragile island habitats have welcomed the reinstatement of funding for controlling exploding resident goose populations, but the budget has been dismissed as ‘derisory’.

Commenting on the announcement that a total of £50,000 would be available over the next two years the Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) said that the budget would “barely keep numbers static let alone reduce to a sustainable figure”.

“We have brought the problem of geese to the attention of Scottish Government on countless occasions, most recently with the minister for environment Mairi McAllan”, said Donald MacKinnon, chair of the SCF.

He said it was encouraging that there had been acknowledgement of the threat to crofting and to biodiversity and funding made available – but added:

“However, realistically the amounts we are being offered for the islands that support this biodiversity are derisory.

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“There are far too many birds to be sustainable so, whilst it being a step in the right direction, the amount needed to reduce the goose population is far higher than that offered. And this funding is only for 2 years so what happens after that?”

He said that it was sad that the unique biodiversity of these islands such as the machair was not valued more highly by Holyrood.

And, with an earlier scheme for Uist alone originally having a budget of £40, 000 per year – MacKinnon said that the promise equated to an average of £6,000 a year for the affected areas and asked: “Is it really a genuine attempt to help or is it window-dressing?”

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