The RSPB has denied rumours that it is interested in buying one of the most spectacular sporting estates to come on to the open market in Scotland.
The purchase by the bird charity of the Millden Estate in the Angus Glens, which is available in its entirety for a record £17.5million, would have been seen as a massive blow for sporting management in the area.
The estate covers almost 20,000 acres, and is described by agents CKD Galbraith as the Holy Grail of grouse moors, capable of shooting in excess of 10 consecutive driven days.
RSPB spokesman Graham Madge told Shooting Times: ?The RSPB hasn?t got any acquisition plans for the Millden Estate, as lovely as it looks. Obviously it?s a very important area for wildlife, and we look forward to the new owners working with that wildlife in order to protect the estate and everything that?s special there.?
The asking price also includes a driven low-ground pheasant and partridge shoot, eight miles of double-bank fishing for salmon and sea trout on the North Esk, and more than 30 properties.
After purchasing the estate in 2004, investment banker Richard Hanson instigated a restoration programme to reverse a gradual decline in the number of grouse shot, and experts now say that the estate has been returned to close to its former glory.
However, many in the shooting community are concerned that other Scottish grouse moors could now follow Millden on to the market, as the effect of the Scottish Government?s decision to hold landowners responsible for the actions of their staff kicks in.
National Gamekeepers? Organisation chairman, Lindsay Waddell, wrote in ≤i≥Shooting Times≤/i≥ last month that the introduction of ?vicarious liability? could cause many landowners to ?sell up and get out?.