Wildlife & Natural Environment Bill Consultation

In June 2009, the Scottish Government published a consultation document on the proposed Wildlife and Natural Environment Bill. Consultation took place on the following topics:

Deer: Proposal to reduce or remove the existing closed seasons.
Game Law: Proposals to update the existing legislation, much of which dates from the 19th Century
Invasive Non-Native Species: Strengthening the existing controls on release and management of invasive non-native species.
Species Licensing: General simplification and clarification of existing legislation.
Other Issues: Snaring, badgers, muirburn and SSSI and other protected areas revisions.

NEMT reviewed the consultation document and commented on the section on deer management. Whilst some sections concern topics out with our remit we raised two principal points. Firstly and most importantly, we are concerned that some less scrupulous estates could use the removal of close seasons as an excuse to restrict public access to the land. Any changes to legislation need to ensure that our existing access rights are maintained. Secondly, we believe that there is a need to attempt to quantify sustainable deer management. At present, different parties have very different views on what are sustainable numbers.

A detailed analysis of the responses received has now been published on the government website: www.scotland.gov.uk/resource/doc/302621/0094713.pdf

As per the NEMT view, the majority of the responses related to the proposals on deer management. A wide variety of views was expressed, both for and against. Although, again in common with our view, the proposals to change the existing close seasons, generated the least support.

The proposals on game law, non-native species and species licensing were generally supported. The replies on the "other issues" expressed the need for simplification. The Bill team will now draw up a draft Bill incorporating the feedback received to date.

STOP PRESS: Although technically nothing to do with this Bill, but mentioned here because this Bill refers to licensed species, we refer to a proposal that has recently surfaced to allow the killing of protected birds of prey around game bird rearing stations. Such a proposal is wrong for many reasons. We are concerned that this might get tacked onto this Bill. We will write a fuller description on this topic in the next issue of Mountain Views.

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