The organisation plans to deliver a COVID- compliant demonstration to send a strong message

The Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) has announced The Rural Workers’ Protest 2021, #RWP21 and says it is: “… an opportunity for everyone across the countryside, on land and river, to unite and find their voice.”

The event will take place on Friday 19th March 2021.

The association is mindful of COVID restrictions and says that whilst it is aware that meetings of people in a physical space are banned: “We are working hard to ensure we can deliver a demonstration which will send a strong message to Holyrood. It may not be our only one in 2021, depending on how the virus dictates things.”

Cause for protest

The rural community in Scotland has been angered by several SNP’s policies which have alienated countryside workers and damaged livelihoods. Scotland’s seven regional moorland groups support the campaign.

Mark Ruskell, a Green MSP, claimed: “Many more rural jobs could be created if we banned the cruel practice of grouse shooting and used the land in other ways, to restore our forests and peatlands to tackle the climate emergency.”

Alex Hogg, the SGA chairman said the government’s failure to curb fish farming,  blamed declining numbers of wild salmon and trout, had impacted river ghillies.

He said: ““Politicians have ignored the views of the working people too often,” wrote Hogg. “Our sector . . . has not had a fair deal from this parliament. We are not the only rural workers affected. Farmers and crofters share a lot of the same anger as ourselves over reintroduced species, curbs on muirburn, restrictions on fox management and the unwillingness to manage or address predation.”

A rural estate agent added:”Lots of people out in the countryside are very sick of Holyrood policies especially those from SNP and Greens.”

In February a judge ruled that Scottish ministers had acted unlawfully after ministers tried to outlaw inshore fishing by creel fishermen to protect the marine environment.

Hogg claims that the Scottish government “through its agencies, seem only to be visible on the issue talking about how important access to nature is, in glossy magazines”.

In defence the Scottish government points to a £1 billion investment in tourism and the rural economy, including support for farmers and crofters to plant trees and restore peatland. “No government has done more to support creel fishermen through the pandemic and now the Brexit chaos — only last week we announced a package of support worth £7.75 million which they will benefit from.”

How to join the Scottish Gamekeepers Association protest

Those wishing to participate in #RWP21 should e mail info@scottishgamekeepers.co.uk for information on how to help and actions that can be taken.