BBC Alba looks at whether the time has come for a grouse moor shooting licencing scheme?

With ongoing concern at the numbers of birds of prey being lost in parts of Scotland covered by grouse moorland, this programme asks whether it’s now time for a licensing scheme to control practices on driven grouse shooting estates?

By John A. MacInnes
Wednesday, 18th November 2020, 3:05 pm
Should we licence grouse moor shooting?
Should we licence grouse moor shooting?

Alasdair MacLeod gets views from those on both sides of the debate on the best way forward on tomorrow’s programme.

And Andrew Mackinnon speaks to members of the Gaelic arts community about the effect of Coronavirus on the sector and to what extent government support will help the industry recover.

Scotland’s Grouse Moors:

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Scotland’s driven grouse moors have long been a controversial topic, with moor management techniques such as predator control, medicated grit and muirburn attracting criticism from animal rights and environmental groups.

The Scottish Government commissioned a report by the specially set up Grouse Moor Management Group, chaired by Prof. Alan Werritty, which was published in late 2019. It recommended that if there is no improvement in the standards of moor management practice and raptor persecution in the next five years, that a licensing system be introduced.

There are many opposing viewpoints as to the importance of driven grouse shooting to Scotland’s rural economy.

Eòrpa will meet with Jenny McCallum, who will discuss what she thinks are some of the misconceptions about grouse shooting and its place in the rural landscape and economy, and with Tim Baynes of Scottish Land and Estates on the negative impacts licensing could have if the Scottish Government decide to implement it.

The programme hears from Duncan Orr-Ewing, Head of Species and Land Management at RSPB Scotland, who has no doubt that it is now time that licensing be introduced in order to protect Scotland’s birds of prey, and from MSP Alison Johnstone from the Scottish Green Party, who thinks driven grouse shooting should be banned altogether; with moorland being put to alternative uses.

With criticism of the intensive practices carried out on driven grouse moorlands, what are the potential alternative uses for these estates?

Eòrpa hears from Angus acLeod (gamekeeper on the Barvas Estate) on how ‘walked-up’ grouse shooting could provide a more environmentally sustainable – if less profitable – alternative. The Abernethy Reserve was used for intensive driven grouse shooting up to the 1980s, until the RSPB acquired the estate in an attempt to encourage the regrowth of pinewood and habitat for the capercaillie.

And Senior Law Lecturer at Strathclyde University, Malcolm Combe, discusses the existing legislation in Scotland to protect wildlife and regulate grouse moors, and the potential benefits and pitfalls of bringing in a new licensing system for grouse shooting.

As we await the Scottish Government’s official response to last year’s Werritty review, this Eòrpa report aims to get to the heart of the issues in the debate over the use and management of Scotland’s grouse moors.

Contributors include:

Angus MacLeod, gamekeeper, Barvas (Lewis)

Prof. Alan Werrity, chair of Scot Gov review, St Andrews

Tim Baynes, Moorland Director, Scottish Land & Estates, based Central Belt

Duncan Orr-Ewing, RSPB, Doune, Stirling

Malcolm Combe, law lecturer, Edinburgh

Alison Johnstone, Green MSP, Edinburgh

Jenny McCallum, Agricultural Consultant/Local moorland groups leader, Errogie, Inverness-shire

Gaelic Arts:

The Covid-19 global pandemic has had a substantial impact on the Gaelic performing arts with the closure of venues, and a ban on live audiences, seeing many artists losing their diary of work, and many having to diversify their profession in order to make a living.

The extension of the Furlough Scheme has gone some way to alleviating pressure for some people working within the arts but many artists feel they have been left behind and undervalued by the government’s action plan to support people through this pandemic.

Eòrpa will speak about the concerns and hopes of various artists.

Contributors include:

Arthur Donald – actor, lives in Yoker, Glasgow

Roddy Murray – An Lanntair – a hub for creativity and the Arts in the Outer Hebrides.

Norrie MacIver – Lead singer with Skipinnish, Gaelic Singer of the Year 2011,

NorrieTagoMusic - Dunfermline

Muireann Kelly – Theatre Gu Leòr, Glasgow

Keith Morrison, Stornoway.

The programme will be available on the BBC iPlayer for 30 days after airing.