Welcome to the latest edition of Heather Routes, the Scottish Countryside Alliance's electronic newsletter.
May has been a month of contradiction from the Scottish Government, with Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill leading from the front. Laying the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill before Holyrood which seeks to introduce strict licensing measures for the estimated 500,000 air weapons in Scotland, MacAskill stated that the sight of guns in residential areas is no longer acceptable. Later in the parliamentary process he declares that Scottish society requires the nationwide deployment of routinely-available armed police officers.
Later in the month the government received the Land Reform Review Groups report as a welcome contribution to the debate on land reform in Scotland citing many of the recommendations as having the potential to dramatically improve our relationship with the land - with resulting economic, environmental and social benefits. However the reality is that the proposed changes will seriously damage private investment in Scotland which will put the jobs and livelihoods of thousands of people in the most marginal rural communities in Scotland at risk. Smacks of a government at odds with itself as it tries to please too many potential voters ahead of the impending referendum. I do hope they don't throw the baby out with the bath water.
On brighter notes, as we welcome June and the Royal Highland Show plans for the formal launch of our youth educational and employment initiative Routes to Rural Employment (R2RE) are in full swing. This important initiative will be launched by Angela Constance Youth Employment Mister at 10 am on Thursday the 19th June. Why don't you come along to our stand for a chat and to find out more. Area - Country - Avenue - 4th - Stand No - 446
We are delighted to announce that we will be joined on the show circuit in 2014 by representatives from Scotland's premier chartered accountants Chiene & Tait specialist team to offer a range of business services and advice. New Scottish Countryside Alliance trade members joining at the show will also be offered a free 1/2 hour Chiene & Tait business advice session.
Bring On The Summer
News in brief
- SCA has grave concerns about Scottish land reform recommendations
- Commonwealth Games shot Neil Stirton champions National Shooting Week
- SNH begins general licence trap study
- The Golden Plover Award 2014 nominees announced
- R2RE Launch invitation
- Insurance for your Gun Dog
- Emergency Authorisation for use of Asulam in Bracken Control
- Proposed Air Weapon Licensing update
- Dumfriesshire and Stewartry Foxhounds Silent Auction
- Hunting around the Country
- Grass E-Route
SCA has grave concerns about Scottish land reform recommendations
Scotland's Land Reform Review Group, a Government study set up to look into how land is distributed, has published its findings.
Within its 62 recommendations the review group advocates a limit on the area of land that can be held by private owners and a change to the current tax system to disrupt the pattern of large-scale private land ownership.
The review group considers that there is no clear public interest case in maintaining the current universal exemption of agriculture, forestry and other land-based businesses from non-domestic rates. It also recommends that the Government reviews the current exemptions from sporting rates for such businesses and introduces a reformed rates system as appropriate in the public interest.
Scottish Countryside Alliance director Jamie Stewart said: "We will take time to review the document in its entirety before making full comment but on first reading we are very concerned.
"Although we wholeheartedly support greater community involvement in land ownership/management we fear that the proposed changes will seriously damage private investment in Scotland which will put the jobs and livelihoods of thousands of people in the most marginal rural communities in Scotland at risk.
"We will continue to work with the Scottish Government to achieve the best outcome for the public interest."
To access the full report: click HERE
Commonwealth Games shot Neil Stirton champions National Shooting Week
Shooting grounds across Scotland are taking part in National Shooting Week 2014. The event runs from 24-31 May and offers the public a have-a-go taste of the Commonwealth Games sports of clay pigeon and target shooting.
And we are delighted to announce that Team Scotland shooter Neil Stirton has thrown his support behind the week.
He said: "Shooting is the most incredible sport. It teaches safety, responsibility and really good values. It does a lot of good for young people, whether they are from a city background or the wildest of Scotland's countryside. It's a wonderful life discipline.
"I found shooting through family connections, enjoyed the target element and wanted to learn more. I luckily found Denwood Target Shooting Centre, and its resident club Bon-Accord Rifle club and after a year of using club equipment I went on to buy my first rifle, a lightweight BSA Mk III. I really believe that we need more initiatives like the National Shooting Week to allow newcomers to discover the sport and who knows, we might even discover a new Commonwealth or Olympic hopeful. I found a direction in my life through shooting and it set me up beautifully."
Neil started target shooting at the age of 12. He will compete in the 50m rifle prone pairs at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games this summer, an event in which he has previously won silver and gold.
Organised by the Countryside Alliance with the backing of the British Shooting Sports Council, this year will be the seventh National Shooting Week (NSW) and we are aiming to make it the best yet, with around 60 shooting grounds around the country and eight in the East, having signed up.
NSW's main aims are to enable anyone to try shooting for the first time and to promote respect for and understanding of legal firearms and airguns and last year hundreds of people were welcomed to the sport at special newcomers' events.
The week offers target and clay pigeon shooting, often at special discounted rates, but does not feature live quarry.
Jamie Stewart, director of the Scottish Countryside Alliance, said: "National Shooting Week is an important date in the diary and has encouraged thousands of people to take up a new sport over the years. Interest in shooting is at a high following our victories at the 2012 Olympics and in the run up to the Commonwealth. We are very grateful to the shooting grounds who are taking part in NSW this year. Their training and enthusiasm is a real asset to the week."
Grounds taking part in NSW, so far include:
Clachnacuddin Small Bore Rifle Club - Inverness - all week - http://www.nationalshootingweek.co.uk/event-search/251
Cluny Clays - Fife - all week - http://www.nationalshootingweek.co.uk/event-search/18
Hopetoun Clays - West Lothian - all week - http://www.nationalshootingweek.co.uk/event-search/197
To find out more about NSW and the grounds taking part in the scheme, go to www.nationalshootingweek.co.uk and to try shooting at a NSW centre as part of a press article, either contact the ground directly or ScottishCountryside Alliance director Jamie Stewart at
FACTS ABOUT TARGET SHOOTING
Shooting contributes more than £1.6 billion to the UK economy each year and supports the equivalent of 70,000 full time jobs (PACEC report 2006)
There are over 1,000 shooting clubs in the UK
A new report by PACEC, which will include an in-depth look at target shooting, is being published in 2014.
150,000 people shoot clay targets on a regular basis (PACEC 2006)
50,000 people enjoy target shooting at ranges every year (PACEC 2006)
Target Shooting as a Sport:
Shooting has a large history in the Olympics, with London 2012 hosting 15 events in total - nine events for men and six for women, plus the Winter Olympics' biathlon events.
Recent successes include Peter Wilson winning gold at London 2012 and World Class skeet shooter Amber Hill winning the 2013 BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year.
There is great expectation of success from British shots at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
National Shooting Week:
More than 20,000 newcomers have tried shooting over the previous six National Shooting Weeks, with an estimated 12,000 staying on within the sport.
SNH begins general licence trap study
Scottish Natural Heritage is asking members of game keeping and land management organisations to help with research about corvids (crows, magpies, rooks, jackdaws, jays) and general licences.
SNH has commissioned Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) and the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) to research how and where corvid traps are currently used in Scotland, how different trap types operate in different situations, and their effectiveness. The research will also measure the risk of welfare issues and of non-target captures.
This follows consultation in 2013 with relevant interest groups.
Ben Ross, SNH's licensing manager, said, "We are committed to making general licences better. We recognise the huge amount of knowledge and experience that practitioners hold, and want to learn from it. "We want to make sure that users can carry out control in the most effective ways with minimal risks to welfare or other species and to make sure that licences are robust and fair. We also want to promote a better understanding about why general licences are used, and how they're important tools in conservation and land management."
Among the 14 general licenses currently operating in 2014 are four that relate to the control of common corvid birds. The general licences list the reasons why these birds may be killed: conserving wild birds; preventing serious damage to livestock, foodstuffs for livestock, crops, vegetables and fruit; preserving public health, public safety and preventing the spread of disease; and protecting air safety. They specify conditions, including authorised trap design, standards for welfare of decoy and captured birds and tagging of traps to identify the operator.
The work will have several stages, starting with a questionnaire to registered users of corvid traps, conducted by GWCT. This will look at when, why and how corvid traps are currently used in Scotland. Later stages of the work will include field studies of how different traps are used in practice.
Under Scotland's wildlife law, all wild bird species are protected, but the control of some species is permitted by authorised persons and regulated by general licences. They cover situations that are relatively common and where there is unlikely to be any great conservation impact, such as preserving public health or air safety and preventing the spread of disease. Their purpose is to allow birds to be effectively managed when there is clear need. The licenses avoid the need for individual licensing, but they do include strict conditions about how they must be used. SNH regularly reviews and revises general licences to ensure they are easy to understand, up-to-date and fit for purpose.
The Golden Plover Award 2014 nominees announced
The Golden Plover Award for moorland management has returned for 2014 with three excellent candidates from across Scotland. The Award is presented annually by the Heather Trust and the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (Scotland) in order to promote the very best in sustainable moorland management. Focussed as much on peatland conservation, upland waders and rural employment as it is on grouse production or farming interests, the Award celebrates integrated land use for multiple benefits, from the largest estate to the smallest syndicate.
In 2014, the three candidates are Loch Choire Estate, Gannochy and Finzean. These properties represent very different sides of the "Scottish estate" story, from the wilds of Sutherland to the Angus Glens.
Loch Choire Estate lies in Sutherland, stretching from the headwaters of the River Helmsdale on its eastern boundary to Ben Klibreck at the western end of the Estate. Along with extensive areas of upland and blanket bog which host breeding greenshank, dunlin and golden plover, the estate offers walked up grouse shooting, stalking and salmon fishing. Rotational muirburn is used to regenerate heather, reduce the risk of damage from wildfires, and assist in geographical redistribution of deer, which helps to reduce overgrazing. The estate has also embarked on a very substantial programme of native tree planting and regeneration.
By comparison, Finzean estate lies a few miles outside Banchory in Aberdeenshire. Game and wildlife management on the Estate is undertaken to support a wide range of species, including the iconic capercaillie. Until the 1980s, the moor at Finzean produced bags of 600 brace of grouse a season, but then suffered a steep decline in fortunes. Since then, considerable effort has been put in to improve the upland habitat alongside other conservation initiatives, and this has resulted in a steady recovery.
Gannochy is one of the great Angus estates, revived from relative disrepair by the current management team. Substantial investment has been required to put Gannochy back on the sportsman's map, and this has involved a great deal of work on the grazing front. The estate is now famed for its success with Macnabs, featuring regularly in The Field magazine. Gannochy now sets an excellent example for other sporting estates, offering varied bags with an emphasis on quality over quantity in some of the loveliest surroundings in Scotland.
The final selection process will take place in June, and the winner of 2014's Golden Plover Award will be announced in time to be presented with a beautiful print by renowned wildlife artist Colin Woolf on Friday 7th July at the Scottish Game Fair at Scone.
R2RE Launch Invitation
The SCA invites you to join us at the Royal Highland Show (RHASS) at 10 am on Thursday the 19th June as Angela Constance MSP Minister for Youth Employment formally launches our newest initiative Routes to Rural Employment (R2RE)
Area - Country - Avenue - 4th - Stand No - 446
Coffee and Croissants will be served from 10am
Insurance for your Gun Dog
Owning a new puppy can be a fun and rewarding experience. But if your pet suffers an illness or injury, it can be expensive, and whilst advances in veterinary medicine mean vets can do more for your new dog, treatment costs can soon mount up.
Caring for your puppy, whether it will grow up to be a gundog or a pet is a big responsibility. The Countryside Alliance believes that insurance is an important part of responsible dog ownership, allowing owners to seek veterinary treatment at the earliest opportunity without having to worry about the cost of unexpected bills.
It's important to be aware that not all dog insurance is the same. Some policies will limit the amount of time or money you can claim for, so don't just shop around on price alone. Ask the following four key questions so you clearly understand what each policy does and doesn't cover:
. Will the policy cover my puppy for on-going conditions (e.g. eczema) into its old age?
. Will exclusions be placed at renewal for an illness that occurred in the previous year?
. Will my excess or premium increase if I make a claim?
. Will the policy cover congenital and hereditary illness, hip-related conditions, dental treatment or behavioural conditions?
A key benefit of Petplan insurance is that the cover applies for dogs being used in connection with recreational activities of game shooting, stalking, gundog working and training including beating and picking up.
To find out more about Petplan policies for your new dog, or for a quote, click here.
Petplan is a trading name of Pet Plan Limited (Registered in England No. 1282939) and Allianz Insurance plc (Registered in England No. 84638), Registered office: 57 Ladymead, Guildford, Surrey, GU1 1DB. Pet Plan Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Allianz Insurance plc is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.
Emergency Authorisation for use of Asulam in Bracken Control
Good news as Emergency Authorisation for the use of Asulam to Control Bracken in 2014 was issued this week by the Health & Safety Directorate.
You will recall that in September 2012 Countryside Alliance Executive Chairman Barney White-Spunner briefed Secretary of State for Defra Owen Paterson on Asulam on behalf of the Countryside Alliance and other interested bodies. This briefing prompted the Secretary of State to instruct his department to lodge the Emergency Authorisation to ensure Asulam can still be used.
Asulam is the only viable bracken control spray on the market and has been banned by Europe; the Emergency Authorisation (under Regulation (EC) No. 1107/2009) ensures it can still be used. Bracken is poisonous to livestock and kills other vegetation, particularly heather. It is one of the preferred habitats for the sheep tick, which can pass on many diseases, including louping ill. This affects grouse and can result in a 79% mortality rate in infected birds, which has a clear impact on grouse shooting. Bracken control is therefore of considerable importance to agriculture, biodiversity, landscape, recreation and sport, and consequently the rural economy.
The application for an Emergency Authorisation must be repeated each year - either until Asulam has been re-registered, which is not expected to be until 2016 at the earliest, or there is an equally effective alternative available.
Proposed Air Weapon Licensing in Scotland - what will it mean for you?
Scotland's Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill MSP, last week announced an Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill ?to licence the 500,000 air weapons he estimates are used in Scotland. Scottish Countryside Alliance director Jamie Stewart has said: "The Scottish Countryside Alliance has lobbied hard on this point. We do not believe lower-powered air rifles need to be licensed as the vast majority of those who hold and use them, as part of an organised pest control exercise or who shoot recreationally, pose no threat to the wider public." Read on for our Q&A on this issue and what it will mean.
How difficult would it be to obtain an airgun under the proposed licensing scheme?
The Bill, as introduced, sets out a new licensing system for air weapons to be administered by the Police Service of Scotland. This would require an existing owner of an air weapon, or a new applicant, to apply for a licence under a new process. The application will take a mixture from the current Firearms and Shotgun certificate application process i.e. age restrictions, character referees, good reason, home visitation etc.
Specific provisions in the Bill include:
a definition of the air weapons that will be subject to licensing;
a requirement for air weapon certificates and the process for applications, grants (including conditions and duration) variations, renewal and revocation of these;
a system of police permits, visitor permits and event permits;
restrictions on the commercial sale, sale for delivery outwith Scotland,
manufacture, repair, testing of air weapons and the operation of recreational
Enforcement powers and offences;
Power to set fees and provide guidance;
Air gun clubs;
Exemptions from the licensing regime.
What is the Scottish Countryside Alliance doing around the Bill?
The SCA has and will continue to lobby against the principles of air weapon licensing as well as the detail of the proposed legislation. We will work with others who are opposed to this, including the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents, The Gun Trade Association and other shooting organisations.
This is a brief review of the proposed legislation. Please use the link to view the full bill including explanatory notes.
Current ownership of an airgun/ rifle or pistol - Do you need to get a licence now?
No. The Bill has just been introduced, and it may face opposition and or amendments during its passage through the Scottish Parliament. If the Bill is passed, it would be some time before the legislation could be enacted, and then there would be a period allowing application to be made. This could be 2015 or 2016 at the earliest.
How long would a proposed air weapon licence be valid for?
If the legislation is passed and the proposed licensing regime is introduced, then an airgun licence would last for five years. If an applicant was between 14 and 18 it would last until they turned 18.
At what age would young shots be able to apply for an air weapon licence?
The proposed guidance states that an individual aged 14 years or more may apply for the Chief Constable for an air weapon certificate. They must have the consent of a parent or guardian, and if under 18 years then the licence will come with certain conditions.
Those under the age of 18 would be covered by an adult's licence, including family member, if they were accompanied and supervised at all times.
How much would an air weapon licence cost?
The cost of a licence would be in line with the cost of an existing shotgun or firearms certificate. The policy memorandum attached to the Bill states: "The Scottish Government considers that at £50 the existing fees for firearms and shotgun certificates are very low. However it is believed that any disproportionate increase could result in applicants simply applying for a Firearms or Shotgun certificate instead.
I live in Scotland and already have a Shot Gun Certificate/ Firearms Certificate. Under the proposed rules would I be expected to apply for a licence to own an airgun?
The intention is that those with an existing shotgun/firearms certificate would not need to apply for an airgun licence until their existing certificate expires. When renewing an existing shotgun or firearms certificate an applicant would inform Police Scotland through the application process that they also wish to apply for an airgun licence.
Will the proposed licence change how and where an air gun could be used?
The 'good reason' test required under the proposed airgun licence will determine what and where an air gun could be used. For instance, pest control will be recognised as a "good reason" for having an airgun licence, as will target shooting.
However, the Scottish Government have expressed their concern about "plinking" (the term used for the practice of target shooting within gardens or other urban or highly populated settings). Scottish Ministers do not believe that target shooting in such an environment should generally be acceptable unless the applicant can satisfy the Chief Constable as to the safety and other arrangements in place to ensure that shooting can be carried out without risk to the public."
I currently shoot as a member of an airgun club. Would this be acceptable under the proposed licence?
Membership of an "approved" airgun club would qualify for airgun use under the 'good reason' test. However, a club would have to apply for formal approval from the Chief Constable. Currently, there are no approved air weapon clubs in Scotland, and new clubs would have to apply for approval.
I collect antique or rare air rifles and pistols. Would I require a licence under the proposed legislation?
Yes, you would need to apply for a licence to possess these air weapons. There is also provision within the proposed legislation for museum collections, such collections will require approval.
What would the penalty be under the new licensing regime for possessing an air weapon without a licence?
Under the proposed legislation anyone guilty of the above could face imprisonment for up to two years, or a fine, or both.
I live in England but come up to Scotland to shoot. How will the proposed legislation affect me?
You would commit a punishable offence in Scotland if you brought an airgun across the border for which you did not have a licence in Scotland for. You would need to apply to Police Scotland for a visitor permit.
You would still be able to come to Scotland with your shotgun which is legislated for by Westminster.
How can I make my views known on the legislation?
We encourage you to write to your MSPs. A concerted effort when this Bill reaches the Committee Stages in Parliament could see it fail or have significant amendments to make it less onerous on practitioners. The Scottish Countryside Alliance will seek and coordinate your assistance through our membership media links when appropriate.
If Scotland becomes independent in September 2014 will the airgun licensing still go ahead?
It is highly likely that the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill would be passed. It is also extremely likely that a Firearms (Scotland) Bill would also be drafted, which would amend existing legislation affecting all who shoot in Scotland. This could lead to changes to firearm and shotgun conditions of use and an increase in licence fees.
Dumfriesshire and Stewartry Foxhounds Silent Auction
The full catalogue can be found on the web site:-
Follow instructions to register. You will receive a personal number which will enable you to bid on any item.
The site will accept bids at any time, right up until the night of the Hunt Ball.
At the conclusion of bidding all successful bidders will be notified and arrangements will be made for payment and collection.
2014 Show Season
The Scottish Countryside Alliance as always will be at the main Scottish shows this year. Everyone is most welcome to visit us, whether to say hello or to discuss concerns, issues or thoughts you may have about the Countryside as well as hear about the progress of our most important campaigns - R2RE, Broadband, Mobile phones, tail docking. Please pick up our Rural Manifesto if you haven't already had a copy.
We will be at the following shows:
- Royal Highland Show 19th - 22nd June - Ingliston, Edinburgh - We will be in our usual spot 500 yards from the West Gate along 4th Avenue -stand 446 towards the Main Ring
- Scottish Game Fair at Scone 4th - 6th July - Our usual spot at the top of Gamekeepers Row, next to the main Ring - Stand GK1
- Highland Fieldsports Fair Moy - 1st & 2nd August right on the Main Ring
- Scottish Hound Show Drumlanrig Saturday 16th August
Hunting around the Country
Contact 01434 270084
Kennel Open Day
Saturday 21st June, 2 pm - 4 pm at the Kennels, Harlswynd, Ceres, KY15 5LB. For further details contact Clarinda Foster - 01334 839218
Terrier and Lurcher Show
Sunday 22nd June at The Kennels, Harlswynd, Ceres, Nr Cupar, KY15 5LB
Judging starts at 1pm. All enquiries to Iain Dickson - 07863 295667
Pick a fence Craige Farm 15th June
JFH Supporters Club
Jed Forest Hunt Supporters Club
AGM at Horse & Hound Bonchester Bridge
Thursday 29th May at 7.30 pm.
Contact 01569 763376
Lanarkshire & Renfrewshire
Hunt Race Night (30th May 2014)
Come and support the L&R with our Night at the Races and enjoy the entertainment, food and drinks with friends and family. The Race Night will start at 7.30pm with the first race running at 8pm sharp. The night will include: Races, Bingo, Auction, Raffle, buffet and disco to follow.
Horses are available for a sponsorship fee of £3.00 before the night.
This means if the horse you have chosen wins the race there will be a prize for you to collect.
We also ask that if anyone wishes to sponsor the race there is a donation of £10. This means that the race will be dedicated in your name/company name.
If anyone has any questions as to how a race night runs, please feel free to ask away, on the actual night the race presenter will run through the rules so that everyone understands what is going on, so please don't worry if this will be your first.
Tickets will be £8 and are on sale and available for collection from Jessica Dradge from the Kennels.
Please text or call Jessica on 07580156268 for an arrangement for collection as there are a limited number and they will go fast.
Contact 01505 612022
E-mail: [email protected]
23th Aug Mini Charterhall XC
Masquerade Ball, Sat 19th July
Meal and live music at Blackhouse, Reston
Tickets £35 - 07846 890 932
Tel: 01361 883796
Duke of Buccleuch
Dates for the dairy
1st - Hunt Supporters Terrier Show
19th - Ladies Lunch
Friday 30th May 2014
Drinks in the Garden (or house) at The Pirn, Stow
Tickets £15 from [email protected]
Sunday 15th June
Lead Rein Treasure Hunt & BBQ
Notice and Entry Form
Sunday 31st August 2014
Sunday 14th September 2014
Hunt Supporters Club
Annual membership -
£15 per family, £10 single
Membership form can be downloaded on Classifieds page
Dumfries and Stewarty Hunt
Thursday 3rd July - Hunt Fun Ride at Hartwood Farm, Hightae
Saturday 16th Aug - Scottish Hound Show - Castleholm, Langholm
Saturday 23rd August - Hunt Fun Ride at Hensol, Mossdale, Near Castle Douglas
Sunday 14th Sept - Hunter Trials - Hartwood Farm, Hightae
Sunday 19th October- Hunt Fun Ride at Kirkland Farm, Colvend.
For details contact Hannah Hutchings on 07708 784313 or entry forms are available on www.dsfh.co.uk
Grass E-Route: Heather Routes
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