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LDNS Feb 16

4 February 2016

Deer Sector under pressure at RACCE Committee Stage 2 discussion

The Land Reform (Scotland) Bill has parts that will affect both lowland and upland deer management. It took another step forward as the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment (RACCE) Committee discussed amendments to the sporting rates and deer management sections of the draft Bill yesterday.

4 February 2016

Deer Sector under pressure at RACCE Committee Stage 2 discussion

The Land Reform (Scotland) Bill has parts that will affect both lowland and upland deer management. It took another step forward as the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment (RACCE) Committee discussed amendments to the sporting rates and deer management sections of the draft Bill yesterday.

Whilst a number of the amendments were not moved or withdrawn, there remains considerable pressure on the sector to deliver significant improvement in the view of the majority of members of the Committee.

The Minister for Environment, Dr Aileen McLeod, reiterated that further measures would be taken if the planned review of the deer management sector showed that satisfactory progress had not been made. She said that the review had been brought forward and would be concluded by end October 2016; it would be “evidence based and factual.”

Compliance with the Deer Code
An amendment tabled by Claudia Beamish MSP, calling for a “requirement to comply” with the Code of Deer Management, was moved but not agreed.

Michael Russell’s amendment regarding a public register of deer management plans, and a consultation process for these, was not moved. However, there was clearly support for these proposals from members of the Committee, and the Minister said she would have further discussion about such proposals prior to Stage 3, to “come back with a tighter provision”.

Power to set future deer culls
Michael Russell’s amendment to the Deer (Scotland) Act 1996, for a new power to set future deer culls, was said by the Minister to have a technical issue as drafted, and would require more work at Stage 3. Nevertheless, this amendment was moved and was agreed.

Timing for start of new SNH powers
A further amendment regarding additional powers for SNH being commenced at the time of Royal Assent was not moved; however, the Minister gave a guarantee that such new powers would become effective approximately two months after this, meaning well before the outcome of the review of the sector.

Repeal of exemption for non-domestic rates for shootings and deer forests
On the repeal of the exclusion of shootings and deer forests from the valuation roll, there were strong arguments, from Alex Fergusson MSP and Jim Hume MSP, stating that insufficient evidence had been provided by Government, and citing the scale of the valuation task. However, after discussion and a vote, the move to reinstate business rates for shooting and deer forests was agreed.

Michael Russell MSP had tabled an amendment that the Assessor should have discretion to vary payments to reflect “good management” and, whilst this amendment was not moved, he reserved the right to “bring something back at Stage 3”, saying he was keen to see a measure that would be an incentive for good management on the face of the Bill.

 

The full Committee discussion on 3 February 2016 on the Land Reform (Scotland) Bill can be seen here: http://bit.ly/20bfRrF