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SNP and Scottish Green Party enter coalition – what does this mean for conservation?

Scotland’s fieldsports and gamekeeping organisations are facing their most serious political challenge in recent times as the SNP and the Scottish Greens enter a formal pact, writes Matt Cross in Shooting Times

Scottish Parliament

The Scottish National Party (SNP) is the largest party in the Parliament. However it is short of an outright majority and will need the support of the seven Green MSPs in order to push through much of its legislative agenda. Crucially, Green votes will be needed in order to pass the legislation needed for a second independence referendum. The move has sparked concern because of the close connection between the Scottish Green party and anti-shooting campaign groups such as Revive and One-kind.

In the recent past, Green MSPs have written guest entries on one of the UK’s leading anti-shooting blogs and have manipulated parliamentary processes and used emergency COVID legislation to introduce bans on practices associated with grouse moor management.

The agreement between the parties commits them to “address the environmental impacts of intensive grouse moor management.” Aberdeenshire Councillor Geva Blackett announced that she would be leaving the SNP over the deal. Geva told Shooting Times: “There are a number of reasons I left – local health care and the
SNPs centralising agenda being one – but talking about grouse moor management without appreciating the benefits shows the ignorance and prejudice. Who is going to employ keepers for the odd day of walked-up grouse? When the keepers go, who manages the foxes, crows and mustelids that destroy any ground nesting bird or eggs they happen upon?

“We have already seen the demise of the lapwing up here in Braemar because of the huge numbers of gulls; so will it be goodbye curlew, merlin and the hen harrier too?”

While the pact is a serious blow, it does not give the Greens any cabinet seats, giving them two junior ministerial posts instead. It also doesn’t include a commitment to ban grouse shooting and the formal deal does not include a section on fieldsports.

Commenting on the deal Scottish Gamekeepers Association chairman Alex Hogg, MBE, said: “Our views on the dangers of this SNP/Green alliance as regards jobs were made clear before the election. Concerns remain. However, it is a new Parliament. The SGA will work constructively with all parties to represent our members.”