Wildlife and Natural Environment – Scotland Bill.

Spent some time going through the above, which was passed by the Scottish Parliament last week. While it has already received some criticism it is a step forward in several respects and Roseanna Cunningham and Peter Peacock are to be congratulated on their efforts and determination. The section relating to vicarious liability has been retained, but the proposal associated with “estate licensing” has been dropped. In reality I never thought the latter was a runner , although the germ of what is needed in the future is there should raptor persecution continue unabated.

In a sense Estate owners have walked into a trap of their own making by agreeing to self-regulation and providing an assurance things will improve. If such pledges don’t see an improvement in the methods and approaches taken by some of their constituent members they then do lay themselves open to some form of direct regulation and doubtless there will be some substantial clamour to follow that route! However, I believe self regulation from within the peer group should be given an opportunity to at least test the basis of sincerity and responsibility they are “signing up ” against. It does amuse me that, collectively, they are signing up to an initiative that promises they’ll be good chaps in future and opt in to upholding the law. Can historic guilt be an offence!!! Apologies for the levity, m’lud!

In reality all this has come at a good time. With the most recent survey results for Hen Harrier having registered a significant reduction in the Scottish population, any legislation which provides improved hope for a species under threat is to be welcomed!

John S. Armitage


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