A survey by Scotland’s regional moorland groups found that spending from grouse moor management actually increased by £15 million this year despite the shooting season being one of the worst on record.

The grouse season in much of Scotland was effectively wiped out by snow and wet weather during the critical grouse breeding season. Many moors had no shooting at all and others had a very limited calendar. This led to average losses of £140,000 per estate this year. But despite this, estates still commissioned an average of £600,000 of work each. This money went to businesses such as local garages, joines, builders and plant hire companies. Last year a similar survey found that estates spent an average of £515,000 each.

Employment

Employment on the moors also held up well despite the lack of shooting. On the 25 estates surveyed by the moorland groups only one gamekeeping job was lost and none reported using the government furlough scheme. The lost gamekeeping job was balanced by a newly hired ghillie on another estate.

Lianne MacLennan, Co-Ordinator of Scotland’s regional moorland groups said: “On the back of Covid-19, grouse moors have seen some leaner years of late. We were expecting to see signs of reduced spending, in line with losses, and perhaps some shoots trimming staff. That will have helped a lot of small family businesses in these rural areas, as well as local suppliers at a critical time of recovery. That is a good news story.”

However the Scottish Government’s plan to introduce licensing for grouse moors and the possibility that it may put owners off investing remains a significant threat. Gamekeeper Les George from Grampian Moorland Group said: “Moors require significant investment with no income guarantee and we are close to the tipping point. Scottish Government could effectively lose an important rural sector if it bows to too many extreme demands on licensing.”

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