Readers' Letters: Economic benefits of grouse shooting blown out of proportion

In your article “Rural firms unite to voice fears over grouse shooting licences” (Scotsman, 11 September), the economic contribution of grouse shooting appears to be intentionally blown out of proportion.

The letter referred to, organised by Scottish Land and Estates, the lobbying group for Scotland’s largest shooting estate owners, completely misjudges the mood of Scotland’s people towards their archaic activity – the harming of animals for sport shooting and the practices that sustain it.

The very fact that such a destructive land use which depends on the killing of hundreds of thousands of animals, the mass chemical medication of grouse and the burning of huge swathes of Scotland hasn’t even required a licence until now is almost beyond comprehension.

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The economic contribution of grouse shooting is actually small, considering the huge amount of land it uses up, and is regularly conflated by the industry with all field sports activities in Scotland.

The Scottish Parliament plans to bring in a licensing scheme and regulations for grouse shooting (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)The Scottish Parliament plans to bring in a licensing scheme and regulations for grouse shooting (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
The Scottish Parliament plans to bring in a licensing scheme and regulations for grouse shooting (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Outdoor tourism, excluding field sports, contributed more than 50 times more to the economy than grouse shooting.Licensing is the least that this brutal industry should expect and the Scottish Government is wholly correct to pursue it.

Max Wiszniewski, Campaign Manager, REVIVE coalition for grouse moor reform, Glasgow

Stand firm

I noted with interest that both John McCutcheon (Letters, 11 September), regarding Airbnbs, and rural businesses, regarding grouse moor regulations, seem to feel that their own economic interest overrides the wider interests of society at large.

If Mr McCutcheon’s Airbnb was on a grouse moor, say Dunbar Common, far from anywhere and he was able to supply water, power and dispose of all waste products without harming the environment, then fine.

However, an Airbnb property in a city uses social capital in the form of utilities, roads, public transport, shops and at the same time denies an ordinary family the chance to live in it, as well as likely increasing house prices generally, thereby making the population more reliant on social housing. Recognising these aspects society, unsurprisingly, has decided to act in the form of higher taxes and some regulation.

In the case of grouse moors, they may employ 11,000 full-time workers and bring in £350 million to the economy but they use up about 15 per cent of the countryside of Scotland.

Gross that up and the whole of Scotland would earn just over £2 billion, as opposed to the 2022 GDP of £168bn. In addition, management of grouse moors involves killing unwanted animals such as foxes, stoats, weasels, burning heather and the peat beneath it, the use of medicated grit left in the open country and often the use of lead shot to kill the grouse.

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Recognising these aspects of grouse moor management, society has, at last, decided to act by implementing some of the recommendations of the 2019 Werritty Report.

I would encourage the authorities to stand firm and act on Airbnbs and grouse moors for the greater good of all living in Scotland.

Benedict Bate, Edinburgh

Drugs caution

While welcoming The Scotsman’s support for drug consumption rooms in the struggle against our national rising drug deaths scandal (Editorial, 12 September) I would caution against any failure to distinguish between drug possession and drug use.

To counter the illegal drug trade, possession must be vigorously and relentlessly pursued, and usage permitted only in approved drug consumption rooms and at the consumers’ expense (which must be below any street price).

On a cautionary note, we will know that this deterrent is working when these legal drug consumption facilities come under assault by drug dealers beginning to see their markets and wealth rapidly vanishing.

Tim Flinn, Garvald, East Lothian

Easy target

Alexander McKay (Letters, 12 September), is spot on. Penny Mordaunt does her homework well and highlights the disaster that is the SNP Government in Scotland, although I wouldn’t necessarily give her too much credit given how easy a target she has.

It’s a pity that the SNP government gets such an easy time from the Scottish media. If they were subjected to the scrutiny the UK press gives the UK Government, more members of the public might realise how little has been accomplished and how much damage has been done by 14 years of SNP rule.

I am not defending the UK Government’s performance, but I fully expect a retort from the usual subjects about their performance. True to form, the letters will say something like “it’s Westminster’s fault”, or “if only we had independence”.

Brian Barbour, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland

TV turn-off

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Allan Sutherland (Letters, 12 September) is intelligent enough to know that if broadcasting was devolved to our Scottish Parliament, the TV companies would not get away with shortchanging Scottish viewers. International football matches are free to air in every other nation, and it is not just in sports coverage that Scotland is shortchanged.

As GWS Barrow said in 1979, in his inaugural lecture as Professor of Scottish History in the University of Edinburgh: “The failure of Scotland to establish its own organisation for public service broadcasting was the greatest cultural disaster which Scotland suffered in the 20th century.”

On BBC Scotland news coverage, virtually every issue is politicised with two or three opposition spokespersons piling in, which does not happen in England or in Wales. On the self government issue there is rarely a 50/50 balance to reflect public opinion. By way of contrast, the public broadcaster RTE in Ireland is politically neutral and has four TV channels plus ten radio channels. RTE only pays £22.5 million a year to get the pick of the BBC’s best TV programmes and the licence fee is free for over-70s.

According to the latest BBC report, only 50 per cent of adults in Scotland now think our state broadcaster reflects their lives and only after independence Scotland will get a broadcasting service that is not filtered through London’s eyes.

Fraser Grant, Edinburgh

Civic shame

Returning from a short holiday to the north of England, my wife and I stopped in Jedburgh for a while. What a revelation. The town is so tidy, with well-kept grass verges and flower beds and a distinct absence of weeds and signs of decay. It is also a town with a deep history and many attractions.

Contrast that with the sight that greeted us as we arrived back in Edinburgh, via Straiton. Here were totally overgrown roundabouts, kerbsides completely silted up, and weeds and litter everywhere. Edinburgh is a disgrace and an embarrassment as Scotland’s international capital. Glasgow is no better. What tourists must think when they arrive here is too awful to contemplate.

Can we not match the civic pride shown by Jedburgh across the country?

Ken Currie, Edinburgh

Sunny outlook

George Herraghty gloats about the fact that in our recent spell of blazing hot sunshine and perfect weather, the wind turbines were generating only 2 per cent of our energy (Letters, 12 September).

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Yes, George – and that shortfall was made up by the likes of those less than new-fangled things called solar panels, which convert the rays from the big yellow shiny thing in the sky and turn it into yummy electricity for toasting your mid-morning pancakes. It’s how the electricity grid has worked since about the 1960s – energy diversification. Do keep up.

Never mind, I'm sure come November, the moment Scotland’s weather is back to normal with rain and gales, George will be back to gloat about how it's now the solar panels that are only generating 2 per cent!

Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

Road to hell

We should not be greatly disturbed to hear about an alleged Chinese spy in Parliament or an alleged Iranian one in the Army. Nor should the occasional foreign agent of influence in our public life greatly worry us. Vastly more damage is done by the perfectly legal agents of various Western institutions.

Our country has been beggared by Oxford University PPE graduates, whose answer to every problem is Quantitative Easing and more taxation. Without the irresponsible creation of hundreds of billions of extra national debt, we would have had to curtail public spending, live within our means and focus on growing the economy.

Also deeply troubling is the influence of the World Economic Forum, whose vision of the future is one of post-democratic and post-national technocracy. Almost all key western leaders attend their annual meetings in Davos. In essence, the WEF offers us a well-meaning but Marxist future where limitless power is exercised over us for our own good.

It is natural for civil servants to support technocracy and ever more regulation. Thus it should come as no surprise that all our senior civil servants support Britain rejoining the European Union, and its vision of a post-national future of mass migration, promoting “equality” and protecting the planet.

The road to hell is truly paved with good intentions.

Otto Inglis, Crossgates, Fife

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