Wednesday 1 April 2020


This evening (April 1st) an amendment to the Coronavirus Bill by Green MSP Andy Wightman, asking for an immediate halt to muirburn during the Coronavirus lockdown, was passed in the Scottish Parliament.

Commenting on the decision, Scottish Gamekeepers Association Chairman Alex Hogg said:
“From day one, the Scottish Gamekeepers Association sought guidance for our members from official agencies on whether people could carry out legal muirburn at this time.
We were told by Nature Scot, a Government body, that muirburn was a legitimate activity and, providing that those carrying it out adhered to the Muirburn Code and complied with social distancing rules, then it was a matter of personal choice whether to undertake muirburn or not.
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service also said that, providing the Muirburn Code was followed, that they supported the continuation of Muirburn and would not recommend that burning stopped.
Rather than rely on recommendations or interpretations of guidance, therefore, the SGA sought to get the correct information for its members, from the official agencies, and gave that advice to members when asked for it, as is our duty.
We commend our members for the caution they have shown when undertaking muirburn this season, in line with guidance. The Fire Service were not, at any stage, called to attend any Scottish muirburn fire and this is testimony to the professionalism, judgement and skills of our gamekeepers.
Anti grouse moor campaign groups, abetted by allies within Parliament, were opportunistic in pegging their opposition to muirburn on the back of the Coronavirus situation. This was supported, at an unprecedented time and with a reduced voting attendance, and we move on aware that, at no time, did any of our members defy official guidance or place any additional strain on front-line services. As ever, our members remain fully committed to helping the Fire Service, during the Coronavirus crisis or at any other time, as they proved last year during out of control fires on rewilding land.
Muirburn is a beneficial and legitimate land management activity which has many benefits beyond providing a food source for red and black grouse, deer and sheep and the SGA will actively support its continuation (should this law permit) when the legal muirburn season reopens again.”