Responsibility for the environment and wildlife management is devolved to the Scottish Parliament. The SNP fully recognise the positive role that is played by shooting estates in the management of Scotland’s natural environment and in wildlife conservation, as well as the positive effect on employment in rural areas, and the Scottish Government will continue to work with shooting estates to achieve positive outcomes in this area. The Scottish Government and Scottish Natural Heritage support the Wildlife Estates Scheme – an initiative to encourage high standards of wildlife management led by Scottish Land and Estates – and also values Scottish Land and Estates’ role in the Partnership Against Wildlife Crime. We also recognise that well-managed grouse moors can make significant contributions to biodiversity targets, particularly with regard to upland wader species such as Lapwing, Curlew and Golden Plover.
Moreover, the Scottish Government’s Land Reform Act 2016 will help to ensure that Scotland’s land works for all of those who live and work on it. The measures in the Act will help to further encourage and support responsible and diverse land ownership, and ensure that communities have more of a say in how land is used.
In connection to this issue, I appreciate that many of my constituents are concerned by wildlife crime. The SNP Scottish Government has already introduced measures to tackle wildlife crime which are greater in scope than those employed in England and Wales, including the criminalisation of poisons commonly used to persecute raptors, the suspension of general licences where areas are being used for wildlife crime activities, and the introduction of vicarious liability, which has so far resulted in two successful prosecutions. The fight against wildlife crime remains a high priority for the SNP Scottish Government, and of course all shooting businesses must comply with the law. The Scottish Government will consider further measures for protection if current measures are found to be insufficient.