No public money for shooting estates

Bloodsports should not be getting public subsidies.

The Scottish Government must curb public subsidies for shooting estates and instead use it to support small farmers and the transition to greener agriculture, say the Scottish Greens.

The call comes ahead of the Scottish Parliament voting on the Agriculture and Rural Communities (Scotland) Bill, which will have its final vote this week.

The Scottish Greens rural affairs spokesperson, Ariane Burgess MSP, will be moving amendments that would end subsidies for land that is dominated by grouse moors and boost support for small farmers.

Shooting estates are being indirectly supported by farm subsidies, with one example cited by the REVIVE coalition as having received over £300,000 a year [1]. This allows them to continue the damaging practices of widespread burning of peatland vegetation and the unnecessary killing of our wildlife.

Ms Burgess, said: “It’s grossly unfair that enormous shooting estates are benefiting from subsidies paid for by the taxpayer. 

“This is public money that should be invested in supporting farmers and rural communities to transition to net-zero, but instead it’s being pocketed by giant landowners and is effectively subsidising the management of Scotland’s uplands for bloodsports.

“My amendments would prohibit subsidies for driven grouse moors, and ensure that Scottish Ministers cannot hand out public money to wildlife criminals. I hope that all MSPs who are concerned about animal welfare will support these amendments.

“The last 14 years have been painful for a lot of people. The last thing we should be doing in a cost of living crisis is handing out subsidies to wealthy landowners for organised cruelty.”

Ms Burgess will also be moving amendments that would support farmers to reduce the environmental impacts of the agriculture industry and assist small to medium scale farmers, crofters and growers to purchase land for food production.

Ms Burgess added: “Small scale farmers play an invaluable role in our food production and in their communities, but, with the current pressures, many are finding it harder to run a sustainable business. 

“Many of them are young and new entrants, and I hope that this bill will provide them with extra support to allow them to purchase and enhance the land around them.”