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Radical' Scottish land reform announced

The Scottish Countryside Alliance is disappointed that newly appointed First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has chosen her first key note presentation to introduce series of radical reforms that could see the scrapping of deer stalking and sporting tax exemptions. Ms Sturgeon said the ending rates exemptions for shooting and deerstalking estates, "put in place by the Tories in 1994 to protect the interests of major landowners", would pay for an increase in the fund which supports community land ownership from £3m to £10m a year.


The First Minister went on to state that Scotland's land must be an asset that benefits the many, not the few and that the government's plans for a Land Reform Bill will allow ministers to intervene "where the scale of land ownership or the conduct of a landlord is acting as a barrier to sustainable development".

Scottish Countryside Alliance Director Jamie Stewart said: Although not wholly unexpected we are very disappointed that the First Minister has chosen to single out what is essentially a rural business sector for special attention. Especially in light of the encouraging words spoken by Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism Fergus Ewing at the Moy Highland field sports fair in August 2014.

Speaking at the launch of the PACEC Report on ‘Benefits and Volume and Value of Country Sports Tourism in Scotland’ Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing said: “Scotland has a global reputation as a prime destination for country sports, which occupies an important position within the wider tourism industry.  I have attended the Moy Game Fair for many years, and am a great supporter of country sports, and the enormous contribution that they make to the rural economy and to tourism.

In a competitive market, our country sports tourism sector offers the complete package – fantastic scenery, coupled with great food and drink, and of course our traditional hospitality, all of which continues to make Scotland an attractive location for enthusiasts.

It is unfortunate the First Minister doesn’t agree with key ministers in recognising the substantial social, economic and environmental contribution of Scotland’s land-based enterprise. In our opinion, many landowners and managers throughout Scotland represent the dynamic heartbeat of our rural communities and support the policy objectives of the Scottish Government including areas such as renewable energy, agriculture, housing and tourism.

Ironically this comes on the back of the report that one of Scotland’s flagship community buyouts, the community-owned island of Gigha is reported to be in financial trouble. It is understood the Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust, which took over the Hebridean island for about £4m in 2002, is almost £3m in the red. Surely a warning for any community who believe that landownership comes without financial responsibility.



Shooting is worth £200 million a year (Gross Value Added*) to the economy in Scotland and provides significant conservation benefits

The Value of Shooting – conducted by Cambridge-based Public and Corporate Economic Consultants (PACEC).

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