Friday, 1 October 2021

GAMEKEEPERS' REACTION TO BASC SCOTLAND DEER CULL PLAN (BLOG)

                                                            Chairman's Blog




We have been asked over the last few days by our members and media commentators for our opinion on the BASC-led plan to let amateur stalkers shoot deer on public land in Scotland.


There is no intention to cause division on this. 


Instead, due to the volume of calls received and questions asked, I want to use this blog to state, clearly, the SGA’s view for those who have asked.


In 2019, the SGA produced its 10 year Deer Vision, written by the professional men and women who have managed 1 million deer in the last decade, more than any other representative body. 


That blueprint introduced the idea of greater utilisation of trained recreational deer managers to help manage deer. In developing this vision further, we proposed a supervised Pilot Scheme in Scotland’s Central Belt where there is a growing roe deer population.


You can read the SGA Deer Vision, here https://www.scottishgamekeepers.co.uk/deer-vision/


2 year on, the recently announced BASC proposal revisits that SGA Deer Vision blueprint- and revisits our idea of a Pilot Scheme. 


However, there would appear to be some key differences.


When the SGA Deer Vision was formulated, professionals viewed the deployment of trained recreational deer managers as part of a holistic, joined up, response to alleviate some of the issues- and conflicts- which have arisen (and still remain) in the sector, such as


  • inadequate community venison supply/ domestic consumption in Scotland, debarring the many from benefitting from one of the healthiest, most sustainable meats there is
  • ability of some monopolistic dealers to dictate a poor hill-gate price for providers
  • lack of community processing facilities in certain regions of Scotland, debarring community consumption and disincentivizing recreational deer management
  • over reliance on out-of-season and night shooting licences to kill deer on public land
  • deer welfare implications of night shooting
  • questions over whether the pay-per-kill model deployed, in the main, on public land was achieving selective deer management which would reduce habitat damage


The Pilot Scheme was an attempt to join all of these dots (with public cost savings), it was not solely a different means to open up new stalking grounds and kill more deer.


A supervised scheme would ensure targets were met in the chosen location and best practice followed. Trained recreational deer managers would manage populations selectively, in-season and during daylight, reducing the likelihood of welfare implications for the deer themselves. This would also provide a learning opportunity regarding different models of management.

With help from Scottish Government/other funding sources a deer processing facility could be made available during the lifetime of the Pilot Scheme in order to use the venison produced, locally, instead of it leaving the locality to a central game dealer and having no community benefit in the area where it was sourced and harvested. This would provide the additional potential to grow local consumption of healthy venison, in untapped markets, and create the potential for new local jobs.


The SGA continues to work with decision makers to progress this idea and other elements of its Deer Vision.


If the BASC proposal, helps to join these dots in a similar holistic manner, from field to plate, while promoting deer welfare, great, and good luck to them. If this is about opportunism and winning new shooting grounds for members, then there is likely to be questions asked about how this will make things better for deer management in Scotland today.


SGA Chairman Alex Hogg, MBE.






Monday, 27 September 2021

HIGHLANDER NAMED SCOTLAND'S YOUNG GAMEKEEPER OF THE YEAR 2021

Jamie Renwick receives the Scottish Young Gamekeeper of the Year award 2021, flanked by partner Emily and SGA Chairman Alex Hogg MBE.

A Highland gamekeeper who developed enduring respect for the nation’s deer through his farmer father has been named Scotland’s Young Gamekeeper of the Year 2021.

Jamie Renwick, 21, from Ullapool, received his trophy from Her Royal Highness, the Princess Royal, on Friday at the GWCT Scottish Game Fair in the grounds of Scone Palace.


Jamie Renwick receives his Young Gamekeeper of the Year award from  Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal at the GWCT Scottish Game Fair.

The prestigious award celebrates the future of the gamekeeping profession in Scotland and has been presented by The Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) since 2008.


Jamie fought off competition from gamekeepers, deer managers and river ghillies nationwide to land the prize after being selected from the shortlist by the SGA award steering group.



Raised on a farm in Ross and Cromarty, he was introduced to deer management as a 13 year old by his dad, Scott, a sheep farmer.

Upon leaving Ullapool High School, he undertook a Modern Apprenticeship in Gamekeeping and Wildlife Management at North Highland College UHI in Thurso, also completing a National Certificate.

During a work placement at Invermark Estate in Angus in 2016, he impressed his peers so much he is still there, 5 years on.

He now works his own beat on the estate in the Angus Glens, splitting his time between grouse and deer management, which remains a passion.

“I have known of other people to win this award but I never really thought I would do the same. I am surprised and very honoured,” said the talented youngster, who was unaware that he had been nominated.

The 2021 award is a significant one within the game sector.

This year marks the SGA's Year of Employment, a 12 month celebration of the work carried out by land and river managers, largely free of charge, on behalf of Scotland’s environment and biodiversity.

Also honoured by the gamekeeping body was Dr James Fenton for unstinting advocacy in support of Scotland’s moorlands, globally rare habitats recognised by international Directives. 


Dr James Fenton with the Ronnie Rose Award 2021
James received the Ronnie Rose Trophy for lasting contributions to Conservation and Education, an award named after the late wildlife manager, author and one of the developers of the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park.


James, a botanist, was the National Trust for Scotland’s first ecologist and has worked in the UK, Antarctica and the Falkland Islands.


He authored the SGA’s paper, A Future for Moorland in Scotland, in 2015, and remains committed to moorland preservation, opposing ill-judged forestry expansion which results in biodiversity loss.


He said: “The open moors of the Scottish highlands could be one of the most natural vegetation patterns remaining in Europe. There needs to be agreement on the areas of moorland to be retained as moorland in the light of its continual loss and fragmentation through forest/woodland creation.”


The SGA 2021 award winners with their prizes.

Rounding off the ceremony in Perthshire, SGA Chairman Alex Hogg, MBE, presented Long Service Awards to Roddy Forbes, Brian Dickson and Ian Dempster for over 40 years of unbroken service to their profession. 

John Mcleod from Peebles was presented with his long service award on Saturday.








John Mcleod receives his Long Service award from SGA Chairman Alex Hogg MBE.



Thursday, 16 September 2021

LEAD SHOT AMMUNITION: SGA STANCE AND RESPONSES REQUIRED

Photo accompanying the Shooting Times article, referenced below.

The SGA is urging members and supporters to respond to the UK consultation on lead shot, issued by DEFRA’s new chemicals regulator, UK Reach.

The consultation, which closes on October 22nd, is seeking evidence ahead of UK Reach issuing options for future restrictions on the use of lead ammunition.

The link to the online consultation can be found here: https://consultations.hse.gov.uk/crd-reach/restriction-proposals-001/consultation/subpage.2021-07-30.9920925652/

An article published by Shooting Times this week https://www.shootinguk.co.uk/news/defra-document-raises-fears-of-blanket-ban-on-lead-ammunition-124428

highlights just how extensive the reach of this consultation is, with evidence even required to assess restrictions on clay pigeons, targets and silhouettes.

DEFRA has already indicated it is 'moving towards' a complete future ban- something which would also pertain to Scotland.

It is clear that, should individuals or organisations have evidence relevant to the debate on the future of lead shot, now is the time to present this to the consultation. 

Some Countryside shooting organisations, lead by BASC, have publicly declared they are behind the phasing out of lead over 5 years and are working with the UK Government.

The SGA was asked to sign up this position but did not do so. The SGA remains unconvinced by present evidence, particularly on how humane and safe lead shot alternatives, currently in development, are when it comes to wildlife management with welfare in mind. 

The SGA position can be read, here: https://news.scottishgamekeepers.co.uk/2020/02/the-sga-and-lead-shot.html


*NB: An article in the forthcoming edition of Scottish Gamekeeper contains a link to the consultation which has subsequently been moved since the time of writing. The consultation link in this article is the most recent and the one to use. 

Friday, 3 September 2021

ACT NOW: SEVEN DAYS LEFT FOR AWARDS NOMINATIONS

Have you nominated someone yet for our 2021 awards? 

If not, you have one week left before nominations close (Friday 10th September). 

We are delighted to welcome back the awards after a year's absence due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

All awards will be presented on Friday 24th September at the GWCT Scottish Game Fair https://www.scottishfair.com

So, get nominating NOW for our Young Gamekeeper of the Year award, for the Ronnie Rose trophy for Conservation and Education and for our Long Service medals. 

Make your nominations to info@scottishgamekeepers.co.uk or call the office on 01738 587 515.

Don't know how to nominate? You will find all the details, here: https://news.scottishgamekeepers.co.uk/2021/06/time-to-nominate-for-2021-sga-awards.html

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

SGA COULD QUIT DEER BEST PRACTICE OVER SEPTEMBER CULL

Scotland’s professional deer managers are considering withdrawing from Wild Deer Best Practice, sickened by a controversial female cull in the nation’s forests.

The Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) was highly instrumental in developing the nation’s codes for humane deer control.

Described as the ‘highway code’ for Scottish deer managers it still guides new entrants into the rural education sector and is in the process of evolution.

Now the SGA is considering withdrawing after Forestry and Land Scotland ordered its deer controllers to undertake a blanket out-of-season cull of females, beginning on September 1st.

The SGA feels the nationwide cull, which last year saw 1300 deer killed, is unjustified, will result in dependant calves starving and was mis-directed towards open hill areas without trees in 2020.

They also consider the move to be a ‘first resort’ action rather than the last resort condition demanded by the out-of-season licence granted to them by NatureScot.

Since FLS announced its plan, the SGA office has been inundated with angry professionals aghast at public departments’ disrespect for deer seasons.

The SGA has also received messages of support from the public.

An FOI request to FLS revealed that forestry body chiefs did not record whether an identical September cull they ordered last year led to calves being orphaned or not.

At this time of year, weeks before the season legally opens, tiny calves which are missed before their mothers are shot will slowly starve as they rely on the mum for survival.

After scrutinising FLS data on the age profile of Scotland’s forests, the SGA claims only a small fraction would be susceptible to damage by females in September.

“We are proud of our 5 years of work in developing best practice in Scotland. These guidelines need to evolve and we appreciate that,” said Mr Hogg.

“But our members are questioning why our name should be on future codes when the direction of travel, within public bodies, appears to be to kill deer, day or night, in-season or not.

“The Government-commissioned Deer Working Group report, due to be implemented, will rid Scotland of protections which professionals fought hard for, through closed seasons, to give an iconic species respite to rear their young without welfare detriment.

“If bureaucrats can scrap seasons and public departments can get sign-off on carte blanche authorisations, why bother having a code for humane deer management at all?

“This is what we now need to consider, with our membership.”

The SGA says its members have managed a million deer in a decade, more than any other entity.

While FLS has justified its September cull by citing deer population estimates of 1 million (all deer species), the SGA says this statistic requires clarification.

“The majority of our members work in the open hill red deer range. Recent research has acknowledged this open hill deer population has been either stable or decreasing for some time now. The Scotland-wide target of 10 deer per sq km is being met across most of that open range.

“In forestry, however, despite a huge increase in night shooting and out-of-season culling, damage is still increasing in a number of areas. FLS need to tell the public where the 1 million deer are coming from and explain why its model, paid for heavily by the tax payer, is not achieving its aim.”


  • Scotland’s Wild Deer Best Practice codes guide industry standards and are regarded as the benchmark.  You can find a link to them, here: https://www.bestpracticeguides.org.uk
  • The Scottish guide has been assimilated into other national codes in Europe.


  • When the Guides were finalised, the SGA refused to sign up to the section regarding use of Helicopters in Deer Control. It was the only body to do so and remains SGA policy.


  • The SGA, represents over 5300 members in Scotland and contains the highest number of professional, trained, deer managers of any membership organisation.
  • You can read its vision for sustainable deer management, here, which views Scotland’s deer as a national resource to be better utilised to the country’s advantage: https://www.scottishgamekeepers.co.uk/deer-vision/



Tuesday, 10 August 2021

IGNORING RURAL WORKERS IN CLIMATE QUEST A 'NATIONAL MISTAKE'

Scotland must harness the untapped skills existing within its game management sector if it is to achieve its NetZero ambitions.

That is the opinion of Alex Hogg MBE, Chairman of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA), as the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow looms.

SGA members, numbering 5300 in Scotland, have managed a million deer in a decade; helping to protect habitats, forests and food crops.

This habitat protection, free of subsidy, represents more deer management than any other single entity in Scotland and will be increasingly necessary if the country is to meet tree planting targets, according to Mr Hogg.

Gamekeepers have been improving upland flood solutions and peat condition in recent years by voluntarily blocking moorland drains which were installed last century to boost agricultural production.

In 2019 SGA members also assisted Scottish Fire and Rescue Service at megafires in Moray and the Flow Country, which doubled Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions.


Discussions are ongoing with fire officials regarding asset sharing which will further formalise the deployment of gamekeepers’ manpower, skills and equipment during wildfire emergencies.

The SGA Chairman warned politicians that ignoring this free resource on the road to NetZero would be a national mistake.

“Anyone who thinks country sports employees are at the opposite end from climate solutions are ignoring an amazing delivery mechanism,” he said.

The direct employment of 4400 people is more than a third larger than the Govt’s own nature advisory service, NatureScot, plus the entire employment roll of the wealthiest Scottish conservation NGOs put together. 

“Contained within that workforce are practical skill sets and knowledge which Scottish Govt would struggle to source anywhere else in Europe.

“Scotland currently benefits from this resource, funded not by constrained public finances, but by visitors who enjoy these activities which, in turn, pays for a range of climate actions over extended habitats, from wetlands, woodlands and mountains to riverbanks.

“I urge MSPs from all parties to think hard about that talent pool and to engage with this asset, in the days ahead of COP26- and beyond, to help deliver the NetZero ambition.

It would be a national error to overlook centuries of boots-on-the-ground knowledge and know-how embedded within our own people.”

The SGA Chairman was speaking as the rural body launches its

Year of Employment https://www.scottishgamekeepers.co.uk/year-of-employment/

The programme will highlight the role rural workers will play in post-Covid economic recovery and the route-map towards emissions reductions.

Fishing and shooting, increasingly technological, sustain more direct Scottish jobs (4400) than the biggest conservation charities (2204), salmon farming (2300), computer games (1285) and the film industry (3635).

Unlike the conservation sector, which requires extensive grant hand-outs to undertake climate work, country sports employees carry out beneficial management free from any direct government support.

The invaluable role of local knowledge in addressing the Nature emergency was this year extolled by Cambridge academic and economist Professor Partha Dasgupta in his Treasury Commissioned ‘Economics of Biodiversity’ paper.

“As a worker, the emphasis in recent years has always been on more and harder regulation of our sector,” said Perthshire gamekeeper, Ben Stevens.

“That has been tough and employee morale has suffered.

“But with some recognition for the work that goes on in conservation and what more could be achieved for the climate, I think ordinary Scots would be amazed at what could be done, free of charge, if the politicians started to engage better with our sector.”


                                                                **********************


For more Sector Employment comparisons and how rural workers can assist NetZero, see our Year of Employment page on  https://www.scottishgamekeepers.co.uk/year-of-employment/



*For the purpose of Employment statistics, direct employment (ie: people directly employed in Scottish game management and fishery operations) has been used as the measure of comparison.

This discounts supply chain and associated employment or FTE: full-time equivalents, which when included amount to 13 100 full time jobs in Scotland’s country sports sector.


Sources: Employment figures


Game shooting and fishing - 4400 direct full time jobs: Source: PACEC: The Benefits and Volume and Value of Country Sports Tourism in Scotland Final Report 2015


Nature Bodies and main Environment NGOs:


NatureScot, Scotland’s Nature agency- 613 jobs: Source: Funding application for the Orkney Native Wildlife Project.

RSPB Scotland 318 jobs: Source: Funding application for the Orkney Native Wildlife Project.

Scottish Wildlife Trust-100 jobs: Source: https://scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk/about-us/who-we-are/our-staff/#:~:text=The%20Trust%20has%20around%20100,day%20running%20of%20the%20Trust

John Muir Trust54 jobs: Source: Annual company accounts.

National Trust for Scotland: 1217 jobs (517 employees and 700 seasonal): Sources: LinkedIn and official website.

Trees for Life:  24 jobs: Source: official website

Woodland Trust Scotland: 491 jobs: Source: Company Accounts.


Total jobs between NatureScot and the principal Scottish environment NGOs = 2817 jobs.

Principal environment NGOs alone = 2204 jobs


Other sectors: 


Salmon farming: 2300 jobs: Source: https://www.scottishsalmon.co.uk/facts/business/salmon-sector-supports-thousand-of-scottish-families


Film Industry: 3635 jobs: Source: The Scottish Parliament Information Centre SPICe


Computer Games: 1285 jobs: Source: https://www.gov.scot/news/brexit-impact-on-computer-games-industry/





* Did you know, 


Shooting and fishing employ more people directly in Scotland than:


  • the music industry
  • winter sports 
  • The Edinburgh Festival Fringe
  • The BBC
  • Global tech giant Amazon


For details, see: https://www.scottishgamekeepers.co.uk/year-of-employment/



Thursday, 15 July 2021

Change in the team at the Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust

 

Change in the team at the Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust

THE Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust (GWT) has announced Ruth Kerr has moved to the new role of Communications Manager with the charity.

Ruth joined GWT as a volunteer in 2009 and in 2011 established their first social media presence with Facebook. She began working in a freelance capacity for GWT in 2019. Today the charity is active across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.

A keeper’s daughter originally from Dumfries & Galloway, she also lived on estates in Northumberland and the Scottish Borders with her family. CEO Helen Benson says ‘We are delighted Ruth has agreed to become our Communications Manager. She has worked tirelessly for us for many years as a volunteer and social media manager and always delivers a first class service, liaising with other organisations and producing imaginative and excellent material in a most professional and knowledgeable manner.  Her background as a Keeper’s daughter and in community engagement give her an insight and sensitivity which is invaluable to GWT’.

Ruth’s work to date has mainly focussed on managing some of the charity’s social media accounts, and in 2019 she was responsible for planning much of the Raising the Game Survey which ran 2019 – 2020. She compiled and reported the results in 2020, with the Scottish Government citing some of the findings in their own 2020 research into the employment rights of gamekeepers [1]. The Raising the Game findings have helped inform GWT’s ongoing support and work with gamekeepers, stalkers, ghillies and their families.

Her new role will see her producing GWT media releases and newsletters, as well as continuing to manage social media accounts.

When she’s not working for GWT, Ruth works freelance in the museums and heritage sector, producing learning and engagement programmes and exhibition content. She’s also a trained Forest School Leader and volunteers weekly with a charity helping deliver Forest School opportunities.

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust launch the Sir John Scott Bursary

 

Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust launch the Sir John Scott Bursary

THIS initiative will see £5000 supporting new research to assist the charity’s work. The successful recipient will have a personal connection to a gamekeeping profession and be interested in furthering the knowledge of an aspect of social or health care in the context of rural life. Their work will have a focus on those involved in gamekeeping professions: gamekeepers, stalkers, ghillies.

 

Applicants for the bursary could be part-time in one of the gamekeeping professions, or have been employed in one in the past, or have a close family connection to a gamekeeper, giving them personal experience of the lifestyle and livelihoods of those involved. Their research interest could be health and wellbeing, social care, isolation, housing, financial issues, or care in later life, with a focus on and application to gamekeeping professions.

 

The Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust (GWT) provides a variety of services for gamekeepers, stalkers, ghillies and their dependants. Sir John Scott, GWT’s Honorary President, says “GWT is currently active in supporting around 600 gamekeepers and their families each year. Research such as this enables us to continue our work, learning about and addressing the key challenges which face our community.”

 

Helen MJ Benson, GWT’s Chief Executive, says “We’re excited about this new venture, which will be helping us ensure we provide the right kind of support now and into the future. It’s a great opportunity for someone with an understanding of our lifestyle and livelihood to deliver really meaningful research which will benefit so many. We’ll be providing a mentor/supervisor for the successful candidate. We’re looking forward to seeing applications – the Trust seeks people with special qualities and we’re never disappointed”.

 

The application process opens 1 August 2021 and candidates should include a brief CV along with a breakdown of their research proposal, their reasons for this area of study, and the goals they hope to achieve. As well as a personal connection to gamekeeping, candidates must be aged between 22 and 66 years. There is no requirement for academic qualifications, though research experience may be an asset. Applicants are strongly encouraged to read the full criteria for eligibility and how to apply at  www.thegamekeeperswelfaretrust.com

 

Notes for Editors

GWT was established in 1992 to support gamekeepers, stalkers, ghillies and their dependants past and present.

An overview of GWT’s work in support, finance, housing and employment with these professions can be found at www.thegamekeeperswelfaretrust.com

Thursday, 24 June 2021

SNP/GREEN JOBS FEARS RAISED IN CROSS-SECTOR LETTER TO FIRST MINISTER

A cross sector coalition representing nearly 100 000 Scottish workers has written to the First Minister seeking job reassurances amid concerns over a mooted SNP/Green coalition.

Representatives in sheep farming, game, river fisheries and coastal fishery sectors sent a letter to Nicola Sturgeon on Tuesday.

They state that they have no evidence to trust that the Scottish Greens will safeguard jobs in their communities as part of any ‘Just Transition’ to Net Zero carbon emissions.

The 13 signatory bodies directly represent 6750 members in Scotland, all of whom operate in rural and coastal sectors sustaining 93 800 jobs.

Their plea to the First Minister comes on the day after The Scotsman newspaper highlighted concerns amongst the Green Party’s own membership about any deal with the SNP. ***

The Scottish Gamekeepers Association, the National Sheep Association Scotland https://www.nationalsheep.org.uk/nsa-scotland/, The Game Farmers Association https://www.gfa.org.uk and 7 regional moorland groups https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEYjj25uYXg0cVpRlf6fXfQ all signed the letter.

A statement of support has also been pledged by the Communities Inshore Fisheries Alliance https://www.cifascot.com

Signatories fear that any arrangement which offers the Green Party significant policy influence could lead to major job cuts, further erosion of community and greater social inequality.

The National Farmers Union in Scotland has also expressed its own concern regarding an SNP/Green pact, with farming supporting 67 000 Sottish jobs.

“We have no evidence available to us which enables us to trust the Scottish Green Party to commit to protecting jobs as part of any so-called ‘Just Transition’,” the joint letter stated.

“Removing the livelihoods of thousands of workers who have much to deliver is, in our view, not the solution to address a climate or biodiversity crisis, or the need to rebuild the Scottish economy, hit hard by the pandemic. 

“Our combined memberships operate in sectors which generate hundreds of millions of pounds for the Scottish economy annually.

“Rural and coastal communities have already been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19 and are additionally coming to terms with major changes following Brexit. There are also worries about the direction of future international trade deals in the farming world and genuine concerns over lack of clarity on the future of agriculture support payments.”

Signatories to the letter stated that they recognised the national endeavour of tackling climate change and believe they can offer much to the cause.

However, policies outlined in the Green manifesto at the recent election https://greens.scot/ourfuture, they said, would leave

‘major question marks hang over jobs, families, homes, communities and the collective futures of our memberships.’

Some of the principal concerns highlighted by the groups were fears over future food security, with productive land being swallowed up for large scale tree planting programmes potentially ‘in the wrong places’.

There are concerns over punitive prohibitions to sustainable fishing around coastal waters and uncertainty around future agricultural payments as farming comes to terms with Brexit and worries over international trade deals.

“It’s vital for us to highlight the importance of Scotland's sheep sector as a part of the solution to meet climate change targets set out by the Scottish Government especially at a time when UK government trade deals are putting our sector under serious threat,” said Jen Craig, National Sheep Association Scotland Chair.

Scottish Gamekeepers Association Chairman Alex Hogg said removing skilled workers in the game sector, which the Greens committed to doing in their manifesto commitment to end ‘blood sports’, would be ‘self-defeating’.

He believes gamekeepers, deer managers and ghillies have much to offer regarding climate and biodiversity and that Green policies would cause ‘untold harms’.

“We hope Scottish Government factor this into its thinking in any partnership discussions,” he said.


                                                                       ******



The full letter and signatories can be found below.


Dear First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP,


We write jointly to you with an urgent request that you prioritise safeguarding the employment of land, river and coastal workers in Scotland as you progress partnership discussions with the Scottish Green Party.


Our respective groups represent many thousands of workers who have given service, knowledge and skills to the cause and betterment of Scotland, and their communities, for centuries. 


We respect your right to hold discussions with the Scottish Green Party or any other party, we understand and support the national priorities of addressing climate change and we feel our respective memberships offer much to the country in this joint endeavour.


We will not be able to participate fully, however, while major question marks hang over jobs, families, homes, communities and the collective futures of our memberships.


The Scottish Green Party have made public their opposition to sectors that they deem do not fit their vision of a Scotland tackling climate change. Therefore, the prospect of a party, with so little public voting support, potentially holding significant influence over key decisions affecting so many workers’ livelihoods is causing considerable cross-sector concern and many questions.


We have no evidence available to us which enables us to trust the Scottish Green Party to commit to protecting jobs as part of any so- called ‘Just Transition’. No concrete solutions have been offered, to date, for the people at the sharp end who are making a living in rural and coastal Scotland but could potentially stand to lose much if Green policies are delivered. We also understand the concerns amongst workers in the oil and gas sectors whom we have also communicated with.


The Scottish Greens’ election manifesto commitments will tear some sectors, such as game and angling, apart. They have not endeavoured to engage with workers in all sectors or heard the steps signatories have already taken to help Scotland on its climate journey and what these organisations can do in the months and years ahead.


There are considerable concerns regarding future national food security and the planting of millions of trees in the wrong places, seemingly with inadequate oversight. This will impact upon opportunities for future generations of farmers whilst changing Scotland’s landscapes and biodiversity forever. There are major worries regarding punitive prohibitions to sustainable fishing around coastal waters and further erosion of livelihoods in coastal communities.


Our collective view is that, if afforded too much influence, the Scottish Greens’ policy priorities will devastate already fragile communities, instigate a major job cuts programme, worsen social inequality and the mental health of workers who already feel under persistent pressure from the extent and direction of environmental aspirations which are often driven, sometimes with little consultation, by powerful NGOs.


Removing the livelihoods of thousands of workers who have much to deliver is, in our view, not the solution to address a climate or biodiversity crisis, or the need to rebuild the Scottish economy, hit hard by the pandemic. Our combined memberships operate in sectors which generate hundreds of millions of pounds for the Scottish economy annually.

Rural and coastal communities have already been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19 and are additionally coming to terms with major changes following Brexit. There are also worries about the direction of international trade deals in the farming world and genuine concerns over lack of clarity on agriculture support payments.


We ask you to provide solemn assurances to signatory parties that Scottish Government will not sacrifice our members’ livelihoods and futures in any power sharing agreement with the Scottish Greens and that you will protect their interests and what their vocation means to them, their families and the cultural heritage of Scotland.


We ask also that you instruct your Ministers to engage with any signatory parties, who have to yet been involved in climate/biodiversity discussions, to hear their views and consider what they can deliver to Scotland on the journey to Net Zero, whilst still continuing to prop up the economies and communities in which they serve.


We wish you all the very best in the coming Parliament and look forward to hearing from you in due course.


Yours Sincerely.


Signed:


The Scottish Gamekeepers Association

National Sheep Association, NSA Scotland

*Statement in support pledged from coastal fishery members of Communities Inshore Fisheries Alliance

SGA Fishing Group

The Game Farmers Association (UK)

Scottish Field Trials Association https://www.scottishfieldtrialsassociation.co.uk

Angus Glens Moorland Group

Grampian Moorland Group

Southern Uplands Moorland Group

Tayside and Central Scotland Moorland Group

Loch Ness Rural Communities

Speyside Moorland Group

Tomatin Moorland Group



These members work in sectors which jointly support 93, 800 jobs in Scotland and represent 6750 members in Scotland.


  • The policies of the Scottish Greens will remove our members from the countryside and turn the lights out in the glen houses. In turn, they will deprive Scotland of the very skilled, practical land managers it will need to deliver climate and biodiversity aims. Their policies are self-defeating, will cause untold harms and we hope Scottish Government factor this into its thinking in any partnership discussions. Alex Hogg, MBE, Chairman, The Scottish Gamekeepers Association.


  • It’s vital for us to highlight the importance of Scotland's sheep sector as a part of the solution to meet climate change targets set out by the Scottish Government especially at a time when UK government trade deals are putting our sector under serious threat. Jen Craig, NSA Scotland Chair.


  • Ghillies and people working on our rivers are coping with the challenges of declining salmon numbers, which has an impact on angler bookings. At the same time, they are investing so much time improving river habitats and in conservation to help salmon. Losing this skill and privately funded resource because the Greens don’t like what they term ‘bloodsports’ would be a major loss for Scotland. Robert White, SGA Fishing Group.


  • Our members are deeply concerned that the Scottish Greens are given too much sway over major decisions. Keeping the boots-on-the-ground people who can deliver is more vital than ever as the country tries to rebuild from Covid-19. The people the Greens would want to remove give so much to the land, the economy and to community wellbeing in remote Scotland. Lianne MacLennan, Co-Ordinator, Scotland’s 7 regional moorland groups.


  • There is a clear and present danger to Fieldsports in general. Fieldsports bring many benefits to the rural community and it is very important that Fieldsports continue to be enjoyed by many people throughout the whole country. The Greens would ban Fieldsports if they have their way - we cannot allow that to happen. The Scottish Field Trials Association.


  • The Game Farmers Association represents the Game Farming sector across the whole of the UK and has a strong membership in Scotland. Our membership is wholly dependent on game shooting and any threat to Scotland’s sporting sector is a threat to our members. We will be resolute in our support of Scotland’s proud sporting heritage and the defence of our members’ interests. The value of shooting to Scotland’s economy and beautiful rural landscape should not be underestimated, it goes far beyond the money spent on the shooting itself. 
  • George Davis, Chairman, The Game Farmers Association.

Some Further Reading: Concern at Ayrshire tree planting scheme: https://www.pressreader.com/uk/scottish-daily-mail/20210605/282119229471888

Aquaculture concerns at SNP/Green pact:


Chris Packham hits out at wrong trees in wrong places.

***Green Party members urge party not to deal with SNP

Former SNP Health Secretary wary of SNP/Green deal.