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BASC pushes Minister on grouse licence date

Codes of practice for grouse moor management need to be in place before the Glorious Twelfth or deferred until August 2025, says BASC.

BASC Scotland has called on the Minister for Agriculture and Connectivity, Jim Fairlie MSP, to confirm the date that the licensing system will be fully operational and whether the processes needed to deliver the licences will be in place by 12 August. 

As part of the Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Act 2024 — which received royal assent at the end of April — separate codes of practice for grouse moor management and for muirburn are being developed. Both are still in draft form, but officials have said the grouse moor management one is “approaching a final version”. The code for muirburn is not expected to be finalised until early 2025. 

If any estate breaches the terms of the new codes of practice, their licence for grouse shooting could be removed. 

BASC is seeking assurance that licensing will be in place by the start of the grouse season, or that the start date of the licensing framework will be pushed back to the start of the 2025 season to allow time to set up the relevant processes. 

BASC Scotland director Peter Clark said: “Our members are concerned that with the Scottish government seeking to introduce grouse shoot licensing before 12 August, time is running out. All businesses need time to adapt to major changes, and grouse shooting is no exception. 

“The grouse shooting sector in Scotland must not be placed in such a situation so close to its most important date, given the risk to jobs, livelihoods and the rural economy. We have written to the Minister seeking assurance that our sector will not be left in an uncertain situation.” 

Former chairman of the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, Lindsay Waddell, told ST: “At least part of the new legislation regarding the management of moorland for grouse shooting in Scotland may end up being beneficial, as the delay might just give moorland managers longer to get a more practical approach built into the law. 

“There is little acknowledgement that the vast majority of many of the species the government seeks to protect are found breeding and feeding on managed moorland. Managers can only hope the new body of MSPs recognise the importance of game management to the economy and to wildlife in general.”