Thursday 30 June 2016

Firearms/Shotgun Renewal GP Disclosures

From the 1st April 2016 and following consultation between BMA UK, RCGP UK, various shooting organisations, Police Scotland, Information Commissioners Office, Scottish Government and others there will be an encoded reminder placed on all applicants medical records showing that they are certificate holders.  Any change during the lifetime of the certificate involving certain medical issues will be reported to the Police. Some of the more salient points are highlighted below.

·         Police will contact the relevant GP’s/GP Practice when an applicant requests a Firearms/Shotgun Certificate or a renewal of the certificate. i.e. There will be a pre-grant letter from the PoliceConsent given from last renewal which lasts the term of your certificate.

·         NHS GP patient records will have Clinical Codes and Terms added to indicate that the individual has a Firearms/Shotgun when the pre grant letter is sent, so that it is clear to a GP that an individual has a Firearms/Shotgun Certificate.

·         The decision whether to Grant, Renew or Revoke a certificate remains a matter for the Police
·         Should a certificate not be granted, revoked, cancelled or lapses the Police will notify the GP’s/GP Practice in order for the clinical record be updated with the Clinical Codes and Terms to indicate the individual  no longer holds a Firearms/Shotgun Certificate.

·          Beyond the initial letter, additional costs will be met by the Applicant or Police depending on the level of medical information/report required. Any fees charged vary between GP’S and Practices.

·         New application forms address the issues of informed consent to enable the GP to share relevant clinical information as appropriate as well as during the duration of the certificates.
·         There will be electronic transfer of information between GP’s/GP Practices

Police Scotland will send letters to all applicants GP’s and this will go some way in determining the outcome of the application, it also speeds the application process up at the same time.  The Police have a duty of care not only to the applicant but to the general peace of the public and their safety.

Some of the medical conditions that are mentioned include

·         Acute Stress Reaction or am acute reaction to the stress caused by trauma
·         Suicidal thoughts or self-harm
·         Depression or Anxiety
·         Dementia
·         Mania, Bipolar disorder or a psychotic illness
·         A personality disorder
·         A neurological condition, e.g. MS, Parkinson’s or Huntington’s Disease or Epilepsy
·         Alcohol or Drug abuse
·         Any other mental or physical condition which may affect the safe possession of Firearms

·         Any other conditions involving a certificate holder where the holder has not contacted the GP personally i.e. Domestic Violence 

Tuesday 28 June 2016


There are some big issues in the Cairngorms National Park. How do we provide much needed affordable housing and reduce the proportion of second homes? How to we balance the varying land management objectives across the UK’s largest National Park? How do we tackle flooding? How can we help people be healthier, communities be empowered and ensure the best possible experience for our visitors?
This is a big Park – covering six per cent of Scotland – with big questions needing answered and the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) wants to hear what you have to say.
Big Park Big Questions is the consultation on the next Cairngorms National Park Partnership Plan (NPPP) for 2017-22. The Cairngorms NPPP is a management plan for the whole Park, setting out a vision and overarching strategy for managing the area. It sets out how all those with a responsibility for the Park will co-ordinate their work to tackle the most important issues.
With help from nine 9-year olds from Kingussie Primary School – the Park’s custodians of the future – the CNPA Convener Brian Wood and Chief Executive Grant Moir launched Big Park Big Questions this morning (Monday 27th June), with the consultation set to focus on nine key issues. These are:
·        Landscape Scale Conservation – looking at woodland expansion and habitat enhancement.
·        Deer and Moorland Management – how do we balance grouse moor and deer management with wider habitat and species diversity?
·        Flood management – what can be done to reduce the impacts of flooding?
·        Visitor infrastructure – looking at where investment is needed to ensure the best possible experience for visitors.
·        Active Cairngorms – how can we use or improve our infrastructure in the Park to encourage people to be active and healthy?
·        Learning & Inclusion – ensuring every child in Scotland gets to visit the Cairngorms National Park.
·        Community Capacity – looking at how we provide the best opportunity for local people to work together on shared priorities by giving consistent and clear support.
·        Housing – how can we work together to provide more affordable homes balanced against the need to protect what is special about the Park?
·        Economic Development – looking at infrastructure investment, education, tourism, forestry and renewable energy opportunities. 
Speaking at the launch this morning Brian Wood, Vice-Convener of the CNPA explained: “Big Park Big Questions does not try to cover everything that happens in the Cairngorms National Park but instead, we are outlining the big issues on which we want peoples’ views.
“The National Park Partnership Plan will set out the priorities for all those involved in managing the Park. It is extremely important that we have a wide range of input from partners, communities, businesses and the general public to ensure that the Cairngorms National Park continues to thrive for people and nature.
“Partners are already delivering a great deal of work to enhance conservation, improve outdoor access infrastructure, enhance the visitor experiences and support rural development. The questions raised in the consultation reflect the issues facing communities within the Park but also the big questions about how the Cairngorms National Park benefits people across Scotland.”
Scottish Natural Heritage Chairman Ian Ross said: “The Cairngorms National Park is an area of global significance, stunning scenery and home to a diverse range of important species which make an important contribution to Scotland’s biodiversity.
“At Scottish Natural Heritage we recognise the importance and value of the emerging Cairngorms National Park Partnership Plan and particularly where we can get involved with partners and land managers in developing landscape scale conservation projects – projects which will help in the delivery of both significant natural heritage improvements and a range of wider public benefits – such as health improvement, tourism and natural flood management.”
Mark Tate Chief Executive of the CBP said: “It is really important that the businesses who drive the economy of the park engage in this consultation and provide input on the matters important to us. Our visitor driven economy exists because of our stunning natural heritage, it is really important that we protect this.
“There are challenges and we are delighted housing has been highlighted as one of the Big 9 issues. More access to affordable housing for the people who live, work in and look after our National Park is vital; the current situation is undoubtedly an inhibitor to growth. We would like to broaden this debate to include office and business accommodation to help attract investment in the Park, the visitor economy is a huge strength that we must build on. We must also look to diversify and attract more non tourist businesses to this inspirational environment. At the CBP we will be doing our bit to help members engage and provide a collective voice we would also encourage businesses to engage directly in this important consultation.”
Roger Clegg of the Association of Cairngorms Communities commented: “Public consultations are not without their dangers but these nine questions help to give focus to this exercise by concentrating on areas which are important to the development of the National Park. Ultimately the success of the Park relies on having thriving communities and therefore it is vital that as many people as possible from all walks of life share their views.”
Big Park Big Questions gets underway today for a period of 14 weeks, closing on 30th September. Following this, the proposed NPPP will go before the CNPA board before being submitted to Ministers for approval in the spring of 2017.

You can get more information on the Cairngorms National Park Authority website and keep up to date on Twitter via @cairngormsnews using #BigParkBigQuestions. 

Wednesday 22 June 2016


Pic courtesy of SGA member Jason Clamp.
The Scottish Gamekeeper Association has backed the use of ‘scarers’ on moors, claiming they are one of the only means to protect ground-nesting birds from the growing raven population.
Gas guns, timed to produce periodic bangs, and inflatable scaring devices, have been used by farmers for many decades, to prevent pigeons and crows from damaging crops.
In the past decade, gamekeepers have deployed them on moors at hatching time to move on flocks of legally protected ravens, whose numbers have grown by 40 per cent in 18 years.*
A study commissioned by SNH of Dotterel nests in East Drumochter showed ravens to be the main cause of nest failure, with 96 per cent of Ptarmigan nests in one year also predated by ravens.
The intelligent birds will feed on red and black grouse chicks and the young and eggs of red-listed Curlew and other endangered moorland waders.
Conservation charities have questioned the deployment of scarers on grouse moors, claiming they may disturb other protected nesting raptors.
That has been challenged robustly by gamekeepers who say there is no evidence.
Gamekeepers also feel that if no deterrents were available, it would make it increasingly difficult to protect rare chicks from mobbing ravens.
Whilst farmers can obtain licences from SNH to protect lambs, there is currently little mood to adapt approaches to protect ground-nesting birds from ravens by issuing removal licences.
SGA Chairman Alex Hogg said: “The SGA consistently advocates that land managers need legal tools to be able to manage during times when there are conflicts between species.
“Because licences to protect ground nesting birds are rarely obtained, people have to look at all legal options if they want to protect any economic stock, which is their job, and the other moorland species that home there, such as Curlew, that are rapidly disappearing.
“Flocks of ravens can hoover up chicks and eggs. There may be enough grouse on a moor to be able to sustain such losses, but that is not the case any more with wading birds.
“If someone did want to apply for a licence to SNH to control them, they would have to prove that they have used all non-lethal alternatives first; alternatives such as these.
“In our view, land managers should be encouraged to deploy deterrents, such as gas guns and scarers, to move ravens on, rather than being criticised.”
Conservation charities say Hen Harriers could potentially be disturbed by gas guns, causing them to attempt to breed elsewhere.
However, gamekeepers believe this is mischief making.
Perthshire Gamekeeper and SGA Committee member, Ronnie Kippen, said: “Gas guns are not placed anywhere near Schedule 1 (protected) birds’ nests and there is no evidence of disruption of nesting Harriers or other raptors. Farmers have been using them for decades. If there was any problems, the raptors would be gone.
“If Ospreys can nest at T-in-the-Park, with all the noise of a music festival and Peregrines nest in town bell towers, it shows that raptors become de-sensitised to noise.
“Where I work, we use gas guns to protect black grouse and golden plover chicks from ravens.
“Even then, they only work until the ravens get used to them. We’ve tried everything, shots in the air, shots off rocks in isolated areas, scarers and varying the frequency of bangs on the gas gun but flocks of ravens still come in and inflict damage. It’s very difficult to deal with, so people need legal tools to work around rare wildlife.”

Reference: BTO Breeding Bird Survey 2014. Percentage change in breeding birds in Scotland between 1995 and 2013.
Wader Statistics from BTO Breeding Bird Survey 2014:
Decline in Curlew (55 per cent)
Decline in Lapwing (59 per cent)
Decline in Golden Plover (25 per cent)- All figures are for Scotland.

See the 2014 Survey, here:

*** SNH and DEFRA are currently working on cross-border guidance for the use of gas guns and scarers on farmland and game shoots.

Wednesday 1 June 2016


We now have info on the fees, forms and other details of how airgun licensing will operate.

Whole document:

Link to fees section:

Fee notes:
- Main AWC (air weapon certificate) fee is £72 for 5-year certificate
- Shorter certificates may be issued to smooth out peak flow demand. This will be on a pro-rata cost basis.
- Applicants under 18 will have lower certificate fees relative to the number of years under 18, at which point they will have to apply for a full AWC i.e. someone 17 years old pays less than someone 15 years old.
- Applicants who have FAC or SGC can apply for an AWC that expires at the same time as their other certificate(s).
- The AWC fee for FAC and SGC holders will be £5.
- The visitor permit cost is £20 for an individual and £100 for 5 to 20 persons - this is ludicrous and will harm airgun sports tourism, including matches and competitions.

The document outlines:
- About air weapon certificates
- Photograph requirements
- Police permits
- Visitor permits
- Variations
- Event permits
- Approval of air weapon clubs
- Mandatory conditions
- Replacement certificates, permits and approvals
- Fees
- Duration of air weapon certificates
- Application forms:
AWL1 Application for the grant or renewal of an air weapon certificate
AWL1a Air weapon certificate (what it will look like)
AWL2 Application for the grant of a police permit
AWL2a Police permit
AWL3 Application for the grant of a visitor permit
AWL3a Visitor permit
AWL4 Application for the variation of an air weapon certificate, a police permit or a visitor permit
AWL5 Application for the grant of an event permit
AWL5a Event permit
AWL6 Application for the grant or renewal of an approval of an air weapon club
AWL6a Approval of an air weapon club
AWL7 Application for the variation of an approved air weapon club’s approval

Other points:-
- The full Act comes into force on 1 January 2017.
- Applications for AWCs will start from 1 July this year, though AWCs will not take effect until 1 January 2017.
- Existing SGC or FAC holders are covered to possess and use (not buy) airguns until their next renewal.
- Airgunners who are not FAC/SGC holders have until 1 November this year to apply for an AWC*

[* It is not an offence for a person on or after 31st December 2016 to possess (but not to use, purchase or acquire) an air weapon without holding an air weapon certificate if the person has, before 1st November 2016, made an application for the grant of an air weapon certificate and the application has not yet been determined. This does not apply to FAC/SGC holders who are automatically covered to possess and use airguns until their next renewal date.]

Members should make themselves aware of the new law. We will try to distill and clarify confusing aspects. Any SGA members with questions should get in touch with the office.

Article Courtesy of Alex Stoddart at SACS