The Scottish Rural Property and Business Association (SRPBA) has expressed concern that shooting lodges in Scotland could face enormous bills trying to comply with fire regulations, after fire services announced a crackdown on violators. The SRPBA is now urging the Scottish Government to give owners of listed country properties and shooting lodges more leeway in complying with the 2005 Fire (Scotland) Act.
Though the Act was passed in 2005, fire services have only recently started checking compliance in some rural areas. The new regulations are affecting all sizes of rural hospitality businesses and are being interpreted with different degrees of thoroughness across Scotlands local authority areas. Improvements demanded include fire escapes, fire doors, emergency lighting and special fire-resistant paint.
The SRPBAs chairman, Luke Borwick, said that the one-size-fits-all legislation needs to be revised: We are not saying that shooting lodges should not have to comply, but it will cost some owners up to £100,000 to come up to the exceptional standard that is being demanded in certain areas. These are hotel-standard fire regulations being applied to, in some cases, Grade A listed historic houses that take in a small number of paying guests.
What we are looking for is a sense of proportion. If you shut down all these businesses, as some already have been, then you are taking a lot of money out of the local rural economy. You are talking about millions of pounds every year.
Lord Johnstone, the owner of Raehills, an 18th-century lodge, in Lockerbie, said that the regulations would have a severe impact on the estates revenue: We cater for a limited number of private parties built around shooting. The income from these, though very valuable, does not even cover the running costs of a house such as this.
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