Scotland's hunting, shooting and fishing workers express fears over SNP/Greens coalition

Workers in Scotland’s hunting, shooting, fishing and farming sectors have written to Nicola Sturgeon over fears that a potential coalition of the SNP with the Scottish Greens could lead to job losses as the country steps up action to tackle climate change and environmental degradation.

In the letter, representatives from the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, the National Sheep Association Scotland, the Communities Inshore Fisheries Alliance and various moorland groups plead for the First Minister to safeguard roles in rural and coastal areas.

They state a lack of trust that the Scottish Greens will protect the interests of certain professions as part of a ‘just transition’ to net zero carbon emissions.

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They write: “The prospect of a party, with so little public voting support, potentially holding significant influence over key decisions affecting so many workers’ livelihoods is causing considerable cross-sector concern and many questions.”

Signed by 13 membership bodies directly representing 6,750 workers in Scotland, the letter warns that any arrangement that offers the Green Party significant influence over policy could lead to major job cuts, erosion of communities and greater social inequality.

The signatories say they recognise the “national endeavour” of tackling climate change and believe they can play a significant role.

However, they claim policies outlined in the Green manifesto at the recent election would leave “major question marks” hanging over jobs, families, homes and communities.

Issues outlined include pressures on game shooting, fishing in coastal waters, uncertainty over future agricultural payments and the effects on farmers of international trade deals.

Representatives of Scotland's hunting, shooting, fishing and farming sectors have written to the First Minister to express fears over jobs under an SNP coalition with the Scottish Greens
Representatives of Scotland's hunting, shooting, fishing and farming sectors have written to the First Minister to express fears over jobs under an SNP coalition with the Scottish Greens

Among other pledges, the Scottish Greens have stated their aim to see licensing of driven grouse moors, banning fox-hunting and muirburning, as well as extending woodlands to cover 40 per cent of Scotland.

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Scottish Gamekeepers Association chairman Alex Hogg said removing skilled workers in the game sector would be “self-defeating”.

He insisted gamekeepers, deer managers and ghillies have much to offer in the battle against climate change and biodiversity loss and that Green policies would cause “untold harms”.

“We hope Scottish Government factor this into its thinking in any partnership discussions,” he said.

The letter states: “We have no evidence available to us which enables us to trust the Scottish Green Party to commit to protecting jobs as part of any so-called just transition.

“Removing the livelihoods of thousands of workers who have much to deliver is, in our view, not the solution to address a climate or biodiversity crisis, or the need to rebuild the Scottish economy, hit hard by the pandemic.

“Our combined memberships operate in sectors which generate hundreds of millions of pounds for the Scottish economy annually.

“Rural and coastal communities have already been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19 and are additionally coming to terms with major changes following Brexit.

“There are also worries about the direction of future international trade deals in the farming world and genuine concerns over lack of clarity on the future of agriculture support payments.”

The Scottish Greens have insisted they are committed to supporting jobs in countryside and coastal locations.

Environment spokesman Mark Ruskell said: “The vast majority of people in rural communities want to see investment in jobs to restore Scotland’s natural environment and tackle the climate emergency.

“The Scottish Greens manifesto contained bold plans to do this, and we recommend that the signatories of this letter read it.”

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