Successful BASC amendments improve Scottish grouse Bill; but snaring ban progresses


BASC has claimed a significant victory in a crucial vote on the Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill, which will ensure that grouse shooting continues unhampered.

MSPs in the Rural Affairs and Islands Committee today, 7 February, entered day one of voting on Stage 2 amendments to the Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill, include those lobbied for by BASC

The Bill seeks to introduce grouse shoot, muirburn and trapping licences. However, when introduced, it did not provide legal safeguards for licence holders in respect to grouse shoot licence suspension, a power which could have potentially contravened articles within the European Convention on Human Rights.

The vote today removes disproportionate suspension powers for trap licences, an issue BASC has lobbied MSPs and ministers on over the past 12 months. Without this removal, trap licences could have been suspended or revoked for a disproportionately broad range of so-called ‘relevant’ offences, simply based on an investigation into vexatious allegation, without the need to prove any level of criminality or wrongdoing. 

"Some way to go"

The removal of these powers places the Bill in a more workable position. However, according to BASC, the Bill has “some way to go” before being reasonable.

Peter Clark, director of BASC Scotland said: “It is evident that our lobbying and hard work engaging with MSPs and ministers throughout this Bill’s progress has removed a fundamental flaw in the Bill.

“The power to suspend trap licences, even when NatureScot was not satisfied of any wrongdoing, was simply absurd, and we are glad our political pressure has seen this removal. In the next vote, it is likely that our amendments to removal suspension powers on grouse shoot and muirburn licences will also pass.

“We believe the snaring ban is wholly disproportionate and is damaging to threatened bird species, which will now be subjected to over-predation.

“Inconsistent and disproportionate legislation could jeopardise the viability of moorland management, placing jobs, investments, and our capacity to safeguard upland biodiversity and carbon stores at risk.

“Our amendments have been directed towards facilitating the development of legislation that is balanced, reasonable, effective, and practical.

“As the voting continues over the next few weeks, we urge MSPs to vote to support our amendments to ensure it is workable and prevent the worst parts of the Bill making it to the final stage.”

Day two of voting on amendments will take place on Wednesday 21 February, when MSPs will consider provisions on grouse shoot and muirburn licences.

Read more news and updates from BASC Scotland here.