Publication - Report

Goose management policy in Scotland: 2010 review

Published: 23 Feb 2011
Directorate:
Environment and Forestry Directorate
Part of:
Environment and climate change
ISBN:
9780755999798

Review of goose management policy in Scotland conducted in 2010.

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304 page PDF

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Contents
Goose management policy in Scotland: 2010 review
7 Options for goose management in the future

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7 Options for goose management in the future

7.1 Introduction

There is a strong case for continuing intervention in goose management in Scotland both to deliver species conservation obligations and to manage the impacts on agriculture and crofting. Based on our discussions with stakeholders, and in the light of continued increases in populations of geese in Scotland, we consider that without such intervention, the situation would revert to one of conflict, as prior to the report of the National Goose Forum and establishment of the National Policy Framework ( NPF).

The NPF was highly successful in largely removing the pre-2000 tensions ( Chapter 3), and it has played a major role in the successful protection of Barnacle Goose populations (Section 2.6). It has been less successful in protecting the Greenland White-fronted Goose population, although it is far from clear whether intervention in Scotland alone could have achieved this (Section 2.5.3). It has also not resolved the issues associated with a rapidly increasing Greylag Goose population ( Chapters 4 and 5 and Appendices G and H). This intervention in goose management has not been without an escalating cost to the taxpayer however, at least in part because of increasing goose populations and increases in expected damage costs to agriculture ( Chapter 4).

7.2 Sustainable management

The project brief indicates that the "key to the future of goose management is a sustainable management policy to enable both the needs of farmers and crofters and biodiversity interests to be met".

Precisely what constitutes sustainable management is debatable given the variety of definitions of sustainability that exist. Based on a strong sustainability approach (Pearce et al. 2006), it could be argued that the stock (or value) of critical goose capital should not decline in order that goose services may be maintained. This would imply that the size of important populations considered to constitute critical capital should not decline below some current or historic level.

Current species policy, in so far as it can be identified, is concerned mainly with species protection and the viability of vulnerable populations. This alone does not provide a sound basis for policy because experience has shown that (at least some) changes in goose populations are likely to result in changes in social costs (agricultural damage) if geese graze on productive agricultural land. A case can be made for expecting farmers to bear some of this cost because of other public support they receive (i.e. the SFP and/or LFASS; see Appendix I), but, this apart, there will be additional public expenditure costs to support policy intervention. The public expenditure associated with reducing the impacts on agriculture must also be in some sense sustainable. A broader definition of sustainability would recognise this as a component of what constitutes sustainable management. In general, increasing goose populations supported by public finances are only justified if the public's willingness to support such policy exceeds its costs. It is no longer clear that policies which resulted in substantial population increases can now justify the costs involved (see Section 4.3).

In practice, we consider that sustainable management of a goose population requires that each population has a lower bound determined by population ecology (e.g. Population Viability Analysis) and legal obligations, and an upper bound determined by damage and management costs. Stakeholder preferences will inform decisions on both the lower and upper bounds. This is the approach we apply below.

7.3 Policy context and objectives

The preceding chapters have indicated that policy needs to take into account:

  • Species protection and impacts of geese on other biodiversity obligations and objectives. Policy must thus concur with international conservation obligations.
  • Stakeholder interests (including impacts on farmers/crofters, and the preferences of the public and other interest groups).
  • The social and budgetary costs of intervention (and non-intervention). The current pressure on public expenditure emphasises the need to contain budgetary costs.

The legislation for species conservation provides some basis for policy, in terms of the obligations to maintain the range and numbers of all naturally occurring goose species and manage populations sustainably (Section 2.1). But these obligations only become crucial when there is a risk of failing to meet them, and where there is clearly no such risk, these legal obligations provide no basis for shorter-term management measures.

Public preferences also inform policy in terms of the population changes that the public are prepared to support through public expenditure. The preference research to date is quite limited in scope (Section 4.2.2) but since this is the only such research available, we use the WTP for a 10% increase in what were termed "endangered" or "vulnerable" populations 45, and the absence of a clear WTP for much larger increases, as an approximate guide for policy development.

7.4 Moving towards Species (population)-specific policy scenarios and objectives

Since different goose species (populations) are associated with different legislative obligations and restrictions (Section 2.1), with different public concerns (whether 'vulnerable' or not 46), and different population dynamics (Section 2.5), we suggest that policy should reflect these differences and that, to be effective, delivery should be species (population)-based. Actions under current goose policy are very much focused on a relatively small number of discrete geographical areas within Scotland (Figure 1.1 and Chapter 4), which have become defined as a result of their previous history of conflicts between geese and agriculture. Such a history of evolution of any such policy is almost inevitable. However, we suggest that the changing context in which goose policy in Scotland now sits (Section 1.2) - particularly with respect to increasing numbers of many species ( Chapter 2), emerging and related goose issues outside of existing goose scheme areas ( Chapter 5) and budgetary constraints - warrants that policy take a more holistic and geographically inclusive stance. A species (population) focused stance is commensurate with this suggestion.

In Table 7.1 we provide a rationale for categorizing the main Scottish goose populations into three groups, each of which we believe needs to be treated separately in terms of the future broad policy options available currently. For naturally occurring (native) goose populations, this categorization is based on qualitative assessment of the current level of risk to each population (as discussed in Section 2.5), and thus risk of Scotland defaulting on its conservation obligations (as discussed in Section 2.1). Taiga Bean Goose is somewhat anomalous in that the risk to the population is only high from a local (Scottish) viewpoint because the Scottish population is very small (internationally this population is secure; Section 2.5.7 and Table 2.5). We have defined its population as 'Vulnerable' because policy measures need to be quite specific for this population (as for the other 'Vulnerable' species, the Greenland White-fronted Goose; see Section 7.4.1).

We have split populations that are not deemed to be at 'high risk' currently into 'Non-quarry' populations (the two Barnacle Goose populations) and 'Quarry' populations, to reflect their differing status under international and domestic legislation (Section 2.1 and Table 2.1). These two groups need to be treated differently with respect to the future policy options available to manage them (Sections 7.4.2 and 7.4.3).

In the case of Canada Goose (and other non-native goose species), international conservation obligations do not dictate that populations are managed sustainably (Section 2.1) and indeed there is international agreement to seek to prevent such populations from becoming a threat to other nature conservation (and economic and other interests). However, under domestic conservation legislation in Scotland such populations currently have a similar level of protection to other quarry species, and hence (with some caveats) we have grouped them with quarry species for the purposes of discussing policy options (Section 7.4.3 and Table 7.3).

In the sections that follow, we discuss options for improving the management of each group of species (populations) in future.

Table 7.1: Categorization of main Scottish goose populations for treatment under species (population)-specific policy (see Section 7.4 for full explanation of the rationale for classification).

Species (population)

Recent Scottish population characteristics
(see Section 2.5 and Table 2.5 for more information)

Predicted population trajectories and uncertainty
(see Section 2.5)

Current relative level of risk to population in terms of conservation obligations
(see Chapter 2 for further information)

National/local policy categorization and objectives
(See Section 7.4)

Greenland White-fronted Goose

Steady decrease (most marked on Islay); Scottish population ca 12,500 birds; upgraded recently to AEWA listing A2.

Increases predicted by both density-dependent and density-independent models (against observed declines; modelling needs updating).

HIGH (because of overall global decline, declines at main Scottish site and loss of small flocks).

'VULNERABLE'

Taiga Bean Goose

Stable to increasing; small Scottish population (<300 birds); AEWA listing B1.

N/A for Scottish population.

HIGH (locally only; because Scottish population small and concentrated).

'VULNERABLE' NOTE 1

Barnacle Goose (Greenland)

Sustained increase but decreases at some sites (particularly Islay) in last three winters; Scottish population ca 58,300 birds (in 2007/2008); AEWA listing B1.

Density dependent model for Islay predicts stability at ca 34,000 birds, and this stabilization may be occurring (modelling needs updating).

MEDIUM (Because of some evidence for recent reductions in breeding success, concentration of the population, and declines particularly on Islay).

'NON-QUARRY'

Barnacle Goose (Svalbard)

Sustained increase; Scottish population ca 32,800 birds; downgraded recently to AEWA listing B1.

Predicted increase and apparently density-independent based on current evidence (modelling needs updating).

MEDIUM-LOW (Because of some evidence for recent reductions in breeding success and concentration of the population).

'NON-QUARRY'

Greylag Goose (Icelandic)

Approximately stable numbers but large shift in wintering area (to Orkney); Scottish population ca 74,300; AEWA listing B1.

Very dependent on level of shooting pressure (which is currently very uncertain).

MEDIUM-LOW (Because some evidence of potential for loss of breeding areas, increased concentration on Orkney and uncertainty over population modelling).

'QUARRY'

Greylag Goose (native breeding) NOTE 2

Large overall increase in both parts of population; Scottish population ca 47,500 birds; local decreases (related to shooting?); AEWA listing B1.

Predictions for the Uists, and Coll and Tiree, very sensitive to management control (numbers shot and egg oiling); modelling very limited by the lack of data from other areas.

LOW (Although there will be risk to local populations from management control if not implemented adaptively).

'QUARRY'

Icelandic Pink-footed Goose

Increase; Scottish population ca 248,000; AEWA listing B2a.

Population ( UK) is already much higher than baseline predictions. Population trajectories still uncertain due to lack of accurate information on numbers shot.

LOW (Because population is currently large and increasing, and calls for control are not widespread)

'QUARRY'

Canada Goose (and also applies to other non-native goose species)

Increasing; Scottish population >1,200 in 2000 but not counted since; non-native species.

No modelling available. No recent survey information and no numbers shot available. Population indices based on the wintering population suggest a large % increase since 2000.

LOW (Little concern as the species is non-native). But note future concern over possible impacts on other native wildlife (including other native goose species).

'QUARRY' (but also NON-NATIVE)

NOTE 1 For Taiga Bean Goose the risk to the population is only high from a local (Scottish) viewpoint because the Scottish population is very small (internationally this population is secure; Section 2.5.7 and Table 2.5). We define its population as 'Vulnerable' here because policy measures need to be quite specific for this population (as for the other 'Vulnerable' species, the Greenland White-fronted Goose; see Section 7.4.1).

NOTE 2 We treat the Scottish native breeding population and naturalized populations together here (for rationale see Section 2.5.5).

7.4.1 'Vulnerable' species (populations)

Greenland White-fronted Goose

From Table 7.1 (and Section 2.5.3) the Scottish goose population clearly in most need of policy support is that of the Greenland Whitefront. For this population, policy needs to take account of the conservation and public concerns for this species. These indicate that policy should seek to provide disturbance-free feeding and support population growth. However, since the factors responsible for the recent population decline are not fully understood (Section 2.5.3), the policy response is not straightforward. If impacts outside Scotland (e.g. on breeding success) are limiting population, policy intervention in Scotland will be ineffective. Since the situation is unclear, we suggest that Greenland Whitefront policy is aimed at supporting the population, in so far as is possible, treating the species differentially from other goose species. Specifically, Greenland Whitefront should be prioritized and treated differentially in terms of objectives, data reporting and intervention specific to the species (including explicitly both the major and outlying (small flock) components of the population). We discussed in more detail specific recommendations for supporting this species, including possibilities for addressing concerns regarding the situation on Islay, in Section 2.5.3.

Taiga Bean Goose

Given the small and concentrated nature of the Scottish population of this species and the obligation to conserve the species range internationally (Section 2.5.7 and Table 2.5) we recommend that intervention to support the protection of the Taiga Bean Goose flock in Scotland should continue (see Appendix H Section 17.1.1).

7.4.2 Other (non-'vulnerable') species (populations)

None of the other species (populations) in Table 7.1 is currently at 'high risk', and the available preference research suggests that the additional benefits to the public from population expansion to levels exceeding those given in Table 2.3 are unclear. In this context, we suggest that policy could adapt to the current situation by placing a larger emphasis on seeking to minimise net costs.

These consist of:

  • The cost of damage (the value of lost agricultural output and any additional costs to farmers associated with geese).
  • Transaction costs, including the costs of monitoring and data analysis to inform the decision-making specific to allocating payments 47.
  • Less the value of private/commercial shooting.

Non-'vulnerable' non-quarry species

The two populations (Svalbard and Greenland) of Barnacle Geese fall into this category. Both populations have expanded since the inception of current goose policy in 2000, and this is due at least in part to intervention under the NGMRG/ LGMG structure. Some stakeholders have suggested that Barnacle Geese should now be added to the quarry list because of their improved conservation status (see national stakeholder responses on SG website).

Some future policy options for these two populations are provided in Table 7.2.

OPTION 1 Continued current delivery structure

There are two main risks: the likely growing public costs of managing the populations as they continue to increase; and the concerns over the derogation for shooting currently in place (see Sections 2.5.2 and 2.5.3). Current policy implies increased potential agricultural damage from an expanding Solway population of Svalbard Barnacle Geese. The marginal damage cost as implied by current payments is ca £25-30 per additional goose per year. Additional transaction costs would be small. Hence a further 1,000 geese would add possibly £25-30,000 per year to damage costs. Unless part of this cost could be shared with the farmers, the public expenditure would also increase at this rate. Such a policy would be increasingly expensive until some habitat or other factor limited population growth.

OPTIONS 2 and 3 Widen shooting derogation (with or without publicly funded shooting)

The likely increasing costs of policy measures for these populations could be reduced by widening the geographical scope of lethal scaring as a damage reduction measure, which also has some population impact. We appreciate that the public (and conservation organisations) have generally negative views about shooting under such derogation but there is also evidence for a Willingness to Pay to prevent large increases in the goose population. Private shooting under licence (with bag limits) where damage is severe would incur no net cost but may not have much impact on the population. This might be less coordinated and impacts on the goose population harder to predict than for publicly funded shooting however (Table 7.2). Publicly financed lethal scaring would probably provide more reliable impacts (learnt from experiences on Islay; see Appendix G Section 16.1). This might cost £25+ per goose, which would be a lower cost long-term option than meeting an increasing damage cost if each shot bird reduced the population of geese by at least one in the following year (we cannot say for certain because whether mortality is additive or compensatory has not been determined; see Section 2.5.1).

OPTIONS 4 and 5 Removal of current derogation to shoot (on Islay)

There are some suggested benefits of revoking publicly funded shooting of Greenland Barnacle Geese, both in terms of reducing costs and because of concerns about the effects of the shooting on both the Greenland Barnacle and Greenland White-fronted Goose populations (on Islay; Sections 2.5.2 and 2.5.3). There are many uncertainties over the effects of removing publicly funded lethal shooting and other forms of scaring on the goose population because of shortfalls in the recording that has been carried out to date under the Islay scheme (Sections 2.5.2 and 2.5.3). Since the current cost of shooting ( ca £37 per bird) greatly exceeds the damage cost, there is a case for ceasing to finance public shooting (Table 4.3). Given the concerns over the effects of scaring on Greenland White-fronted Geese on Islay (Section 2.5.3), there might also be a case for making a cost saving (of ca £25,000 per annum; see Table G10) and removing public support for non-lethal scaring. Whether this would result in any positive outcomes for the geese is uncertain (and dependent on the extent to which farmers continued to implement scaring) and the move would undoubtedly increase tensions with farmers (although they might prefer this to complete loss of the Islay LGMS; for implications of the latter see Table 4.5).

OPTION 6 Change status of Barnacle Goose to quarry

Whilst this change could save substantial costs, and has been suggested by some stakeholders (see national stakeholder questionnaire responses on SG website), we do not believe that changing the status of Barnacle Goose to a quarry species is a viable option at present, particularly because of the uncertainty over how shooters would respond to the change (i.e. to what extent the change would result in increased shooting of the species) and the high risk of defaulting on conservation obligations in the absence of an effective hunting bag recording system in the UK (Section 2.7).

OPTION 7 No intervention

We suggest that the only rationale for removing any policy intervention for Barnacle Goose populations would be to make substantial savings to public expenditure by removing the costs of the Local Goose Management Schemes currently supporting these populations (Islay, Solway and South Walls; see Appendix G). This would reduce annual expenditure by ca £1.3m (Table 4.3). There would be a high risk of stakeholder unrest and likely risks of defaulting on conservation obligations (see also the comparable Policy Option 1 in Table 7.5).

Table 7.2 Future management options for Non-'vulnerable' non-quarry species (Scottish Barnacle Goose populations).

See Section 7.4.2 for further explanation of these options.

Management option

Cost implications

Rationale

Likely positive outcomes

Likely negative outcomes/barriers/risks

1 Continued current delivery structure

(current policy measures maintained via LGMSs for these species, either with participants or budget capped at current levels or allowing growth in participation or budget) NOTE 1

Cost to farmers (and public purse) will increase over time if populations continue to expand and LGMS participants need to increase NOTE 2

Policy has been largely effective in meeting objectives to date.

Current presumption against goose schemes for species not requiring special protection ( Appendix A Recommendation 19).

Rely on legislative measures in terms of shooting

Stakeholders will continue to support policy (as they were all involved in shaping it in the first place).

Does not tackle the increasing costs of goose management (unless LGMS budgets are capped).

Does not tackle the current concerns over the derogation to shoot on Islay (see Sections 2.5.2, 2.5.3 and 2.7.7 for more information).

2 Widen derogation to shoot(publicly funded shooting)

(widen the geographical extent of this tool to e.g. Svalbard Barnacle Geese;

with publicly funded shooting)

Incurs additional public cost if shooting undertaken using public funding (c a £25 per goose based on current Islay costs).

Manage to stabilise the population around current levels.

Prevent growing concern of farmers and costs to society from increasing goose numbers.

Stabilise population of Svalbard Barnacle Geese.

Could contain problems of goose damage to current geographical area (depending on pattern of shooting implemented).

Not a popular option for conservation stakeholders.

Could disperse problems of goose damage to wider geographical area (depending on pattern of shooting implemented).

3 Widen derogation to shoot(no publicly funded shooting)

(derogate as for option 2 but do not fund any such shooting from public purse - farmers would need to implement shooting themselves)

Would make a saving of public funds of ca £24,000 per annum (Islay costs; see Appendix G).

Substantial cost saving.

Uncertain NOTE 3

Increased tensions with farmers on Islay (although they might prefer this to loss of the LGMS completely; Table 4.5).

Less control over pattern of shooting.

4 Remove derogation to shoot

(remove the current derogation and publicly funded shooting)

Would make a saving of public funds of ca £24,000 per annum (Islay costs; see Appendix G).

Substantial cost saving.

Reduce risks for this population identified recently (Section 2.5.2).

Non-shooting scaring options would still be legitimate.

Reduce possible risks for this population (and that of Greenland Whitefront) identified recently (Sections 2.5.2 and 2.2.3).

Reduce risk of dispersing problems with this species over wider geographical areas.

Return to tensions with farmers (although they might prefer this to loss of the LGMS completely; Table 4.5).

5 Remove all other publicly funded non-lethal scaring management

(including shooting and non-shooting scaring methods)

Would make a substantial saving of public funds (all current public scaring costs of all LGMS focussed on Barnacle Geese; see Appendix G).

Substantial cost saving.

Reduce possible risks for this population (and that of Greenland Whitefront) identified recently (Sections 2.5.2 and 2.5.3).

Uncertain NOTE 3

Increased tensions with farmers (although they might prefer this to loss of the LGMS completely; Table 4.5).

6 Change status of Barnacle Goose to quarry species

(effectively allowing implementation of options available in Table 7.3)

Not costed

Requested by some stakeholders because of sustained increase in numbers.

Some stakeholder groups would see this as a positive move.

Other outcomes very uncertain. NOTE 4

Would require alteration to EU Birds Directive (and then national legislation), which is a significant barrier.

A very unpopular option with conservation stakeholders, the pursuit of which would severely undermine current concensus for management within the UK goose stakeholder community.

High risk without effective system of recording numbers shot in the UK and rigorous population modelling to facilitate adaptive management ( Chapter 2).

7 No intervention

(intervention restricted to legal mechanisms and the monitoring required for conservation obligations and policy review)

Would make a substantial saving of public funds (all current public scaring costs of all LGMS focussed on Barnacle Geese; see Appendix G).

To minimse public expenditure and restrict agricultural support to other existing funding mechanisms (possibilities laid out in Section 7.5).

See Options 4 and 5 above for possible outcomes of removing those elements of current intervention.

A very unpopular option with most stakeholders, the pursuit of which would severely undermine current concensus for management within the UK goose stakeholder community.

Possible risk of defaulting on conservation obligations in future (depending on the response from farmers in terms of non-lethal scaring, which is uncertain).

NOTE 1 See Table 4.5 for scenarios of change specifically for existing LGMSs.

NOTE 2 Currently likely for Svalbard Barnacle Geese, less so for Greenland Barnacle Geese (at least on Islay).

NOTE 3 Effect would depend on the extent to which farmers might take on the shooting themselves. It is likely that overall farmers would not compensate for numbers shot and scared currently by marksmen (as the proportion of gun-owning farmers is believed to be low).

NOTE 4 It is not possible to predict with certainty how hunters would respond to this change to quarry status (i.e. how many birds would be shot following the status change).

Non-'vulnerable' quarry species

The main current issue here concerns resident breeding Greylag Geese, numbers of which have increased substantially with associated increased conflicts with farmers and crofters. However, in terms of future policy formulation, other non-vulnerable quarry species (see Table 7.1) can be grouped for the purposes of assessing relevant policy options. There are conservation interests in reducing numbers if these geese negatively impact on the attainment of other biodiversity objectives (see Appendix G), and legitimate arguments under current and future policy to reduce numbers where damage to agriculture occurs. However, there are also conservation obligations to ensure that all populations of naturally occurring species are sustained and ranges maintained (Section 2.1). There is an economic argument for both encouraging measures that will reduce damage (through lethal scaring) and reducing (or at least stabilizing) population size (to reduce the potential for future damage).

Some future policy options for these quarry populations are provided in Table 7.3 and discussed below.

OPTION 1 Continued current delivery structure

The lack of a policy response now raises the possibility of increasing damage from increasing populations, which over time will almost certainly lead to conflict and require a response. Maintaining the current delivery structure may also be seen as defaulting to meet one of SG's main Strategic Objectives, that of seeking to make Scottish society fairer (see Section 1.2), if future policy does not encompass appropriately the whole Scottish population of farmers and crofters with legitimate damage claims.

OPTIONS 2 to 4 Removal of barriers to open season shooting

We suggest that actions that might facilitate/enhance private and commercial shooting are the least cost options, allowing farmers and landowners to take action (if they so wish) to increase shooting and further mitigate against agricultural damage. Some of the possible options (particularly OPTION 3 to increase voluntary bag limits; Table 7.3) would be more feasible in our opinion if better information to allow population modelling to predict the effects of increased take with reduced uncertainty was available (Section 2.7) and thus a process of adaptive management (Section 2.7) could be fully implemented. We suggest that making a case either to actively promote an increase in bag limits or to extend the open season for hunting could also be problematic legally (see Section 2.1) in the absence of a comprehensive system for monitoring numbers shot (Section 2.7.3).

OPTIONS 5 to 7 Removal of barriers to closed season shooting

We suggest that all three of these options (removal of closed season licence restrictions; removal of bag limits; introduction of 'general licensing') would be risky in terms of meeting conservation obligations in the absence of population modelling with an acceptable level of uncertainty to predict the effects of increased take (Section 2.7) and thus a fully implemented adaptive management process (Section 2.7). OPTION 5 (relaxing of licensing restrictions) would present the least risk of these options in terms of defaulting on conservation obligations, and OPTION 7 (use of general licences) the greatest risk in our opinion. The use of a general licence could also be problematic in relation to domestic obligations to conserve designated sites (SSSIs) with resident breeding Greylag Goose as a notified feature.

Private versus publicly-funded shooting

Private shooting may not be feasible or effective as a means of controlling increasing agricultural damage with continuing goose population growth. For example, there are significant barriers to its utility on land under crofting tenure where shooting rights do not lie with the tenant, with particularly acute issues in the Uists ( Appendix G Section 16.7.5). It may also not be effective because individual farmers have limited incentive to expend effort in shooting when they feel that the impact on the goose population is minimal and that their actions may move the problem elsewhere (including to neighbouring farms). However, where the cost of damage exceeds the cost of shooting, an argument can be advanced in support of public funding for removals. But we suggest that the initial response should be to facilitate private and commercial shooting where possible rather than substitute for it.

OPTION 8 Sale of goose carcasses

Some stakeholders indicated a desire to allow sales of the carcasses of quarry species, particularly Greylag Goose, in order to provide greater financial incentive to shoot geese and mange them sustainably, to reduce problems of carcass disposal (from closed season licenced shooting), and to potentially provide a local source of income from geese (see Section 4.4.4). We suggest that such a move would be risky in terms of defaulting on conservation obligations until a comprehensive bag recording scheme is implemented and robust systems can be established to track the source of carcasses (and the species of goose involved; see Section 2.7.5).

OPTION 9 Egg oiling

Egg oiling under licence has been trialled in the Uists as a management measure to supplement shooting ( Appendix G Section 16.7.6). There is even less incentive for an individual farmer or crofter to oil eggs than to shoot geese because there is no scaring benefit and the impact of individual action will be minimal. There is a case for collective action by farmers/crofters to oil or finance oiling but this is not easy to organize. Experience in the Uists indicates that publicly financed facilitation or direct public financing may be required (see Sections 16.7.6 and 4.4.7). To render public financing an appropriate option here, we suggest that oiling would need to be shown to be the lesser cost (better VFM) option for it to be preferred over shooting, and current evidence suggests this is not the case 48. At least one conservation stakeholder NGO has expressed concern over the legality of egg oiling to prevent crop damage by geese and making the spatial link between eggs in a nest and the actual geese causing crop damage is certainly more difficult than when shooting of fully grown geese is carried out during the period when damage is occurring (Section 2.1).

OPTION 10 Large-scale control of numbers

We do not consider the large scale removal of geese from any of the naturally occurring populations (as advocated by some farming and crofting interests) a viable proposition because of the risk of defaulting on conservation obligations (due to uncertainties in the modelling predictions available currently; see Section 2.7).

OPTION 11 No intervention

As for non-quarry goose populations (OPTION 7 in Table 7.2) and overall policy delivery (OPTION 1 in Table 7.5), we suggest that the only rationale for removing any policy intervention would be to make substantial savings to public expenditure by removing the costs of existing Local Goose Management Schemes (Table 4.3) and the expectation of any further public financing of management specifically for quarry goose species. There would be a high risk of stakeholder unrest within and outside areas with current LGMSs for quarry species, and a fairness issue if some farmers and crofters receive payments to manage for non-vulnerable goose populations (according to the principle of 'he who shouts loudest gets' or for historical reasons) and others do not (a failure to support one of the Scottish Government's Strategic Objectives; see Section 1.2).

Non-'vulnerable' quarry species (that are also non-native)

Conservation obligations towards goose populations are reduced in the case of non-native species, the most widespread of which is Canada Goose in Scotland. There is no obligation to manage such populations sustainably and international agreement to prevent the impacts of such populations on native biodiversity (see Sections 2.1 and 2.7.6). Hence some of the options (flagged under NOTE 4) in Table 7.3 are potentially more viable and could result in more positive outcomes (reductions in population size) where non-native goose species are concerned. We suggest that there may be real risks in terms of future negative impacts on native biodiversity and agricultural interests in failing to act to manage the size of non-native (particularly Canada) goose populations. The main barriers to greater control of such populations in Scotland currently are the costs of, and likely public opposition to, any large-scale control programme (see also discussion in Section 2.7.6).

Table 7.3: Future management options for Non-'vulnerable' quarry species (grey and naturalised Scottish goose populations). See Section 7.4.2 for further explanation of these options.

Management option

Cost implications Rationale Likely positive outcomes Likely negative outcomes/barriers/risks

1 Continued current delivery structure

(current policy measures maintained via LGMSs for these species, either with participants or budget capped at current levels or allowing growth in participation or budget) NOTE 1

Cost to farmers (and public purse) will increase over time if populations continue to expand and LGMS participants and the number of schemes need to increase. NOTE 2

The lack of available funding for new LGMSs.

The general presumption against goose schemes for species not requiring special protection ( Appendix A Recommendation 19).

Rely on legislative measures in terms of shooting to contain the problem.

No additional cost (if current LGMS budgets are capped).

Policy would fail to address the rising numbers of geese and their conflicts with agriculture (increasing tensions with farmers and crofters).

Perceived (and real?) fairness issue in terms of some farmers and crofters not receiving payments for goose damage (contravening SG strategic objectives; see Section 1.2 and Annex I).

Possible future risk from increases in non-native species (particularly Canada Geese).

2 Remove 'minor' barriers to open season shooting (e.g. prohibitions on Sunday shooting)

Negligible.

Minimise perceived barriers to legal forms of hunting.

Negligible cost.

Minimise perceived barriers to legal forms of hunting.

No major issues foreseen.

3 Increase voluntary bag limits for open season shooting

Negligible.

Minimise perceived barriers to legal forms of hunting.

Negligible cost.

Minimise perceived barriers to legal forms of hunting.

Bag limits not currently viewed as constraining.

Hunting stakeholders (and hunting guides) not keen to raise bag limits. NOTE 3

The lack of a comprehensive system for monitoring numbers shot (Section 2.7.3) may be a significant barrier.

See also NOTE 5.

4 Extend the length of the open season

Minimal.

Minimise perceived barriers to legal forms of hunting.

Not high cost.

Minimise perceived barriers to legal forms of hunting.

Shooting season is already carefully defined in terms of satisfying EU legislation not to shoot during the breeding season (see Section 2.1) and making a case for change could be problematic given the lack of a comprehensive system for monitoring numbers shot (Section 2.7.3).

See also NOTE 5.

5 Remove licence restrictions on closed season licences (e.g. who can shoot and where)

Negligible.

Minimise perceived barriers to out of season shooting.

Minimise perceived barriers to out of season shooting.

Loss of information on areas in which shooting is taking place and who to follow up for bag returns (with implications for local population modelling).

See also NOTE 5.

6 Remove bag limits on closed season licences NOTE 4

Negligible

Minimise perceived barriers to out of season shooting.

Minimise perceived barriers to out of season shooting.

Risky in terms of conservation obligations in the absence of rigorous population modelling to allow prediction of population outcomes with acceptable certainty.

Possibility of rapid local extinctions before adaptive changes can be put in place.

See also NOTE 5.

7 Place goose species on a general licence for closed season NOTE 4

Minimal.

Minimise perceived barriers to out of season shooting (no need to apply for individual licences and no bag limits; no reporting of bag returns is required for some species).

Minimise perceived barriers to out of season shooting.

Farmers very much in favour of making this change.

Conservation and hunting stakeholders generally against such a change.

Risky in terms of conservation obligations because difficult to enforce the return of information on numbers taken and in the absence of rigorous population modelling to allow prediction of population outcomes with acceptable certainty.

Difficult to manage in relation to conservation obligations involving designated sites with resident Greylag Goose as notified feature.

See also NOTE 5.

8 Permit sale of carcasses of quarry species NOTE 4

Minimal.

Provide greater financial incentive to shoot, remove problem of carcass disposal and allow the sale of goose products as a local income source (see Section 4.4.4).

Would be seen as a positive move by some stakeholders (see national questionnaire responses on SG website).

Uncertain whether there is any market for goose products and whether there would be any effect on numbers shot (see Sections 2.7.5 and 4.4.4).

Local markets could more local value on geese.

Risky in terms of conservation obligations in the absence of a comprehensive system to monitor numbers of geese shot and robust population modelling to allow adaptive management (Section 2.7.3).

Would require a robust system to track carcasses (origins and species taken; Section 2.7.5).

Would require change to domestic legislation but not to EU legislation for resident breeding Greylag Goose (see Table 2.1 and Section 2.7.5).

8 Egg oiling in the closed season NOTE 4

Minimal (if carried out by landowner or his agent) but may be more costly than shooting if funded with public money.

Response to pressure from farmers and crofters for means to take action (see Section 4.4.7).

Reduce tension.

Some reduction in population levels.

May be lower value for money in terms of effectiveness than shooting (See Appendix G Section 16.7.6 and Section 4.4.7).

Legally and practically, the birds (eggs) targeted can be less directly linked geographically to areas incurring damage (see Section 2.1).

9 Large-scale control of populations ('culling') NOTE 4

Significant.

Requested by some stakeholders.

Rapid reduction in population to much lower levels (but would have to be sustainable and maintain the range of any naturally occurring population).

Reduction in numbers and potential damage to crops.

Farmers would welcome this option.

Huge stakeholder opposition and loss of concensus over goose management.

Substantial public opposition.

Risky in terms of conservation obligations in the absence of rigorous population modelling to allow prediction of population outcomes with acceptable certainty.

10 No intervention (including removal of current relevant LGMSs)

Save on costs of the current LGMSs (Strathbeg, Uists and Coll and Tiree), a saving of ca £185,000 per annum (Table 4.3).

To minimse public expenditure and restrict agricultural support to other existing funding mechanisms (possibilities laid out in Section 7.5).

The general presumption against goose schemes for species not requiring special protection ( Appendix A Recommendation 19).

Rely on legislative measures in terms of shooting to contain the problem.

Savings on public expenditure.

Removal of expectation of further public support for managing goose damage.

Policy would fail to address the rising numbers of geese and their conflicts with agriculture (increasing tensions with farmers and crofters).

Perceived (and real?) fairness issue in terms of some farmers and crofters not receiving payments for goose damage (contravening SG strategic objectives; see Section 1.2 and Annex I).

Possible future risk from increases in non-native species (particularly Canada Geese).

NOTE 1 See Table 4.5 for scenarios of change specifically for existing LGMSs. For the purposes of this table, we have grouped the potential options with and without any cap on the budgets for LGMSs because the implications are similar and can be summarized under this single option.

NOTE 2 It almost certain that these populations will continue to expand, resulting in wider conflicts with agricultural interests.

NOTE 3 Because they represent good (conservation) practice and stakeholders in our interviews indicated that goose guides may not want more pressure to find larger numbers of birds to shoot.

NOTE 4 Implications for non-native goose species (e.g. Canada Goose) Scotland's conservation obligations towards goose populations are different (reduced) for non-native species (see Sections 2.1 and 2.7.6). The options flagged by NOTE 4 may be more viable and result in more positive outcomes where non-native goose species are concerned (see Section 7.4.2 for further discussion).

NOTE 5 The lack of tenant shooting rights is a significant barrier to uptake in crofting areas (e.g. particularly on the Uists; see Section 16.7.5).

7.5 Policy delivery options

There are choices to be made regarding: goose management policy itself (see Sections 7.3 and 7.4 in particular); the instruments to deliver policy; and the governance arrangements for such policy design and delivery. All three elements are influenced by a number of factors, including:

  • Domestic, European and International obligations
  • The interests and behaviour of farmers and landowners, since they manage the land and, to a degree, the geese.
  • The source and quantity of funding, since this may constrain policy ambitions.
  • The legislation relating to shooting and other methods of damage control.

In considering the choices to be made, it is important to distinguish between the specific local goose management schemes which have been a focal point of this study in terms of their operation and geographical extent and the broader context of goose management. That is, geese occur across Scotland and the National Policy Framework applies across Scotland. The current default policy position is one of no explicit public support for goose management unless specific issues are identified: local management schemes have been a response to specific issues at particular locations.

However, the absence of explicit support outwith local scheme areas needs to be viewed against the significant levels of public funding for rural land management more generally. In particular, the Single Farm Payment ( SFP) and Scottish Rural Development Programme ( SRDP) represent annual expenditure of around £450m and £200m respectively. Within the latter, the Less Favoured Area Support Scheme ( LFASS) accounts for approaching £70m, Rural Development Contracts for around £100m. 49

7.5.1 Single Farm Payment, Scottish Rural Development programme, Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme and Crofting Counties Agricultural Grant Scheme

Although differing in detail, both the SFP and LFASS are decoupled payments made per hectare of land. Neither is tied to specific current agricultural activities, but both reflect past activity (and support) levels with (in general) higher rates applied in the South and East than in the North and West or Islands. In principle, the SFP and/or LFASS could be viewed as offering some support for goose management. That is, public payments to rural land are increasingly couched in terms of providing a bundle of public goods and this could include geese.

However, general untargeted area payments are unlikely to address localized management concerns arising from high-density populations or environmental vulnerability. In particular, the lack of explicit management prescriptions tied to payment levels makes both the SFP and LFASS rather blunt instruments. Moreover, since the geographical pattern of payments does not match the geographical distribution of geese nor environmental concerns, there is a mismatch between such general support and the incidence of goose management stresses. This latter point may be addressed partially by transition to a flat-rate SFP and/or possible adjustments to LFA designations, both of which may be anticipated to shift expenditure North and West towards some of the current areas with denser goose populations and conflicts with agriculture. Yet untargeted payments would still remain a blunt instrument with similar levels of (general) support being offered to land managers regardless of the nature and intensity of their goose management issues.

A greater degree of targeting within the SFP might be achieved through deployment of Article 68 (previously Article 69) of the Rural Development Regulation which makes provisions for a National Envelope. This is a mechanism for top-slicing the national SFP budget to create a ring-fenced fund for (amongst other things) environmental management. As yet, this provision has not been deployed and there remains considerable uncertainty about the types of policy instruments and land management activities that might be supported.

If linked to environmental criteria but paid on a per hectare basis as a top-up to the remaining SFP, a National Envelope could be more targeted than the current SFP but still relatively blunt due to the absence of management prescriptions (and payments) relating explicitly to geese. By contrast, management prescriptions and targeting could be improved if measures similar to current agri-environment schemes were permitted - but these would still not necessarily be targeted at geese nor have the same degree of flexibility exhibited by current local schemes.

Similarly, although the current SRDP contains a number of measures that resemble elements of local management schemes, these are not linked directly to goose management nor do they encompass all aspects of local schemes. For example, whilst there are various measures related to grassland management under Land Managers Options ( LMOs), Rural Priorities ( RPs) and the Crofting Counties Agricultural Grant Scheme ( CCAGS) there is no explicit goose management component of these. Moreover, LMOs offer only very limited funding, LMOs and RPs compete with other policy priorities and may yield only fragmented coverage of an area affected by geese, CCAGS does not cover all current local scheme areas and the scope for coordinating scheme membership across neighbouring land managers or for actively deploying public sector employees is severely limited for all of these measures (see also Sections 2.4.3 and Chapter 6).

Hence, as with the SFP and LFASS but in a more overtly environmentally-targeted manner, such Pillar II measures may be viewed as offering generic support for public goods which may include geese, but still lacking key elements of local management schemes deemed necessary to address specific issues. The need to further differentiate between individual species of geese will accentuate this difference between the more generic and the specific approaches to support.

Consequently, whilst awareness of other rural land management support mechanisms is necessary to place local goose management schemes into context and is important in terms of acknowledging the existence of generic support to land managers with geese outwith of local scheme areas, the following more detailed analysis is restricted to funding and governance options for local schemes alone on the basis that the vagaries of local circumstances do require more tailored intervention than can be achieved using the more generic support mechanisms available across Scotland.

7.5.2 Specific funding and delivery options

We examine seven types of funding sources and associated delivery mechanisms. These cover the range of feasible option for policy, including a 'no intervention' option. They are summarized in Table 7.4 and developed in more detail below. These options contrast with those given in Table 4.5, which were a detailed set of essentially cost-saving alternatives for policy delivery within the current NGMRG/ LGMG structure. Here we examine a broader canvas of funding and delivery systems in which a continuation of the present structure is only one from a number of options.

OPTION 1 No intervention

Under this option, the current local schemes would be closed and not renewed 50. Management agreements would not be renewed. Intervention would consist only of legal mechanisms and the undertaking of goose monitoring to meet international obligations and that required for review of policy. We assume that the legal mechanisms in place would remain unchanged. The rationale for its introduction would be principally to save discretionary pubic expenditure in a context where farmers are receiving substantial annual payments under the Single Farm Payment ( SFP) and Less Favoured Area Support Scheme ( LFASS), and many receive environmental payments within the SRDP. Table 7.5 summaries the effects of introducing this measure in terms of cost, effectiveness and other criteria. It is a least cost option, which would save at least £1.3m per year.

Under a 'no intervention' approach, there are high risks that policy would not be delivered, particularly for populations of specific conservation concern (i.e. Greenland White-fronted Goose at present; Sections 2.5.3 and 7.4), and the mechanism provides no basis for sustainable species management. The option includes a level of goose monitoring necessary to assess policy performance and provide a basis for policy review. However, this would not provide information on the costs to farmers of goose damage.

This option would be made more acceptable to farmers if restrictions on shooting and related legislation were relaxed. The options for legislative change are discussed in Chapter 4 and Section 7.4. But the scope for such legislative change is limited for Annex 1 species and hence legislative changes would not in any sense fully compensate for the loss of payments.

The delivery mechanism for current goose policy was largely instituted to reduce conflicts over geese. It is to be expected that removal of this intervention would result in renewed conflict and our interviews with some local groups and farmers indicated that they expected this to occur. This may cause political discomfort. Farmers have generally adapted to goose payments and in some cases become partially reliant on geese as a source of income. Having facilitated such a development it is not easy for policy to radically change in the short term without marked reactions from policy losers. Conditions for government staff and agents in certain areas would be aggrevated.

OPTION 2 Continued current delivery structure

This option is a continuation of the current structure and policy. A new round of bids would be initiated (and SG could seek to negotiate bids down). However, the fundamental structure, decision-making and the devolution of budget allocation to local groups would continue. This option includes no elements of improvement.

Table 7.5 lists the characteristics of this mechanism, which have been examined in detail in Chapters 3 and 4. Whilst most stakeholders saw great merit in the current arrangements, which are generally regarded as having worked well to deliver the NPF and reduce tension, concern about budgetary cost, a lack of clear governance and scrutiny, and the danger that the consensus arrangements will severely restrict the extent to which this mechanism is able to deliver policy cast doubt on its future utility.

Table 7.4: Alternative finance sources and policy mechanisms.

Options

Funding

Description

Rationale

1. No intervention

Legal and monitoring only

Intervention restricted to legal mechanisms and monitoring required for international obligations and policy review.

To minimise public expenditure in a context of agricultural support provided by other mechanisms (including SFP, LFASS)

2. Continued current delivery structure

SG/ SNH

Continuation of the current structure and delivery system without change or improvement

Current system is well tested and has been successful in improving the level of cooperation and harmony between interest groups.

3. Modified current delivery structure

SG/ SNH

Retain the basic structure but introduce modifications to improve governance, accountability and delivery, and reduce costs.

This option seeks to improve the current delivery system without changing its fundamental two-tier structure. It could also deliver substantial budgetary savings. Removes many weaknesses from the current delivery system.

4. Centralised delivery

SG/ SNH

Delivery by SG/ SNH with national and local advisory groups. Direct management agreements with farmers.

This option greatly improves governance and accountability, and links payments more closely to policy objectives. It reduces the limitations imposed by consensus management on policy delivery and value for money. Hence it provides a lower budget, cost-effective delivery mechanism.

5. Delivery via bespoke SRDP options

EU/ SG

Bespoke goose options within a revised SRDP.

Uses part EU funding to finance goose management, thus lowering domestic funding needs. Fits well with the SG policy of greater integration of measures relating to land use and the environment. This allows the trade-off between expenditure on geese and other environmental and development projects to be internalised in the selection process. In principle, this results in enhanced value for public expenditure and lower administration costs.

6. Delivery via standard SRDP options.

EU/ SG

Non-goose-specific SRDP options relating to (e.g.) grassland management. Under CCAGS, LMOs and RP.

Uses part EU funding to finance goose management and thus lowers domestic funding needs. Reliance on standard SRDP options avoids bespoke complexity and simplifies governance issues.

7. Delivery via modified SFP, National Envelopes, LFASS

EU/ SG

Simple per hectare payments

Greater use of EU funding (especially SFP/National Envelopes, partly for LFASS) and thus less reliance on domestic funds. Wide spatial coverage and relatively simple to administer.

OPTION 3 Modified current delivery structure

In Chapter 4 (Table 4.5) we examined (at the request of the contract Steering Group) a range of options for improving the cost-effectiveness of the current delivery system. This was strictly within the context of the current administrative structure. In this option, we go further because we consider that the current delivery system, its administrative arrangements and governance have major weaknesses.

The aim in this option is to improve the current delivery system and improve its cost-effectiveness whilst adhering to the same basic structure. The option may also facilitate more proactive species management, although the extent to which this can be delivered is uncertain.

Under this option NGMRG and the local group structure are maintained but local groups would be much more closely controlled and monitored. The aim would be delivery by consensus.

NGMRG would have an enlarged remit to:

  • Set conditions (linked to agreement on local group budgets) on the formation, governance, scrutiny, and operation of local groups, including conditions relating to the monitoring and reporting on each species present, setting species objectives and delivery mechanisms for each relevant species, penalties for non-compliance with agreements, and the adoption of measures to improve cost-effectiveness.
  • Set a budget each year for each local group. This could be done by negotiation (based on LGMG bids) but could be handled centrally but informed by local advice. The level of budget would depend on SG's willingness to intervene financially and the scope for negotiated cuts. A wide range of options for budgetary cuts are listed in Table 4.5. Overall we consider that a reduction in total costs of 30% appears feasible without a risk of conflict. Up to 40% saving may be feasible by forcing improvements to the cost-effectiveness of the payment structures in selected LGMGs which provide less good value for money.
  • Have the capacity to offer individual management agreements to farmers to supplement or substitute for local group arrangements. This would provide a fall-back where intervention was required to deliver policy where no local group existed or where an existing local group had declined to continue functioning under new conditions.
  • Have the capacity to facilitate the establishment of local groups where these would inform and expedite policy delivery.
  • Establish/improve monitoring arrangements where necessary to inform policy (e.g. where no satisfactory local monitoring currently exists).
  • Improve and standardise reporting by employing an independent consultant to advise groups on data reporting and to observe on methods of monitoring, financial allocation and data handling of each local group.
  • Improve communication with LGMGs (e.g. by asking local chairmen to present annual reports personally and responding faster to issues raised by LGMGs)
  • Clarify and enhance the governance of the NGMRG and local groups, especially the role and responsibilities of chairmen and secretaries. This would include the re-constitution of local groups with restrictions on committee membership of major recipients of payments, transparent methods of defining eligibility and allocation of payments and so on.

The above modifications would place much stronger conditions on LGMGs and SG would need to be clear on what action would be taken if conditions were not met. We have not explored any possible legal consequences of scheme closure.

The above modifications would address many of the weaknesses of the current arrangements. However, as summarized in Table 7.5, this structure may well not be able to deliver severe budgetary cuts if these are required. It may also be paralysed by the need to find consensus at both national and local levels which will limit the effective delivery of policy.

OPTION 4 Centralised delivery

This option seeks to remove weaknesses inherent in the current delivery structure (identified in Options 2 and 3) by replacing it with more centralised delivery. Disintermediation is introduced to reduce the number of intermediary bodies between SG and those who finally manage geese such that there is a much clearer link between the policy mechanisms (e.g. payments, intervention to reduce damage) and the aims of policy.

Under this option, delivery would be through SG/ SNH which would:

  • Not renew current local schemes.
  • Establish national and local advisory groups. Although consisting of much the same representation as the current NGMRG and LGMGS, these groups would have an advisory function only. Although broad consensus would always be the aim, this is not an underlying principle in delivery.
  • Offer individual management agreements to farmers with payment rates set for each local area in relation to local conditions. These could be for buffer or feeding areas with different conditions for each. Farmers would be asked to offer fields at defined rates (as in the current Loch of Strathbeg LGMS), and offers would be selected to achieve maximum cost-effectiveness.
  • Each management agreement would have a set of conditions and obligations attached. Rates would be set at a level sufficient to obtain offers that enabled policy delivery. In many ways this is analogous to the delivery of environmental options under the Rural Priorities element of SRDP but with the advantage that it has greater flexibility to deliver the particular requirement of goose policy in a coherent way.
  • SGRPID would have the role of authorizing payments and compliance monitoring.
  • SNH would establish monitoring systems for all areas where damage to agriculture is a concerning issue.
  • SNH or SGRPID would be required to intervene to organize any publicly-financed shooting required to deliver policy.

Table 7.5 gives the main advantages and disadvantages of this approach. Its main advantage is that it provides a route for greater coherence in policy delivery at Scottish level, both in terms of species at greater risk (i.e. Greenland White-fronted Goose currently) and the achievement of sustainable populations. It also has the potential for greater reductions in public expenditure than Option 3 by making delivery more focused and cost-effective. Finally, it provides a much improved level of governance, scrutiny and financial probity which is a major weakness in current delivery.

However, the loss of local ownership and any significant reductions in funding levels would be opposed by farming and possibly other interest groups.

In theory, this form of delivery could achieve increased cost efficiency by auctioning goose management contracts rather than using flat rate payments (Latacz-Lohmann and Van der Hamsvoort, 1997a, 1997b). With auctions, tender prices are bid down and any surplus to the applicant is minimised. This would in principle reduce scheme costs by removing current 'over-payments'. In a review of the challenge (auction) mechanism in forestry, where it has been used extensively, CJC Consulting (2002) concluded that it is most effective where:

  • The central authority has limited information on what level of incentive to offer. Challenge funding then operates as a price discovery mechanism.
  • Considerable diversity is expected in the costs of participation and/or the public benefits achieved from individual proposals. This will lead to problems in price setting for fixed rate incentives.
  • High participation is required over a short period of time. Challenge funding provides a platform for promoting schemes and this can increase the rate of participation.

These arguments are less compelling for goose management and there is the additional problem that in many areas the small number of participants could lead to collusion on bidding, which would raise payment rates and reduce the theoretical benefits from auctions. We therefore do not recommend bidding and auction mechanisms.

OPTION 5 Delivery via bespoke SRDP options

The current SRDP will terminate in 2013 but is anticipated to be followed by something similar. Hence it is legitimate to consider whether the existing local goose management schemes could be encompassed as bespoke options within the next SRDP. In doing so, we note, however, that stakeholders at local and national levels almost universally opposed any attempt to shoehorn geese into the current SRDP. This included SGRPID chairs who have considerable experience in administering the SRDP. The reasons for considering the SRDP an unsatisfactory delivery mechanism for geese included:

  • The expectation that few farms would qualify under RP51.
  • That the limits on receipt under LMO were too small in relation to damage costs.
  • That goose policy delivery would fragment and collapse, with conservation objectives not met.
  • That the above would provoke strong negative sentiment from farmers with consequent impacts on conservation and SGRPID staff.
  • That expenditure on geese would become competitive with other environmental expenditure, and with a fixed level of total funding there would be a reduction in expenditure on other environmental projects. This would become more acute the greater the priority given to geese.

A major concern of environmental stakeholders was the impact on the total size of the environmental budget. They saw obvious merit in having a separate ring-fenced goose budget. These are matters for SG.

Inclusion of goose management within the SRDP fits well with the SG policy of greater integration of measures relating to land use and the environment. It also uses EU funding hence reducing direct demands on the SG budget. These are attractive aspects. The salient point, however, is whether a revised SRDP might be a suitable mechanism for delivering goose policy at acceptable cost. This is to a degree imponderable since the details of a revised SRDP are yet to be agreed.

If goose policy were to have any potential for effective delivery by the SRDP the following would have to occur:

  • Geese (or specific species of geese) would have to be prioritised in order to achieve the required level of entry.
  • There would be differential rates for feeding and buffer areas at levels that elicited the required uptake rates for policy delivery. Alternatively a challenge approach could be used (as described under OPTION 4 above). To function this would need to be differentiated by area and bids assessed on cost and historic counts. It is a risky mechanism for small areas where farmers may collude to raise prices.
  • Entry would be based on historic density information.

Under SRDP there would have to be substantial changes in the way areas were managed. The close involvement of local project officers in not only inspecting scheme compliance but also advising on management and playing an active role in managing (public) scaring equipment may not be compatible with the RDR. Certainly no existing SRDP measures involve public employees in such a manner, and Commission expectations appear to be of a more hands-off role. Equally, clarification may be required of the order in which scheme applicants are enrolled and management prescriptions are agreed - apparently the Commission has expressed concerns in relation to other habitat/wildlife measures in the SRDP that applications are being accepted prior to farm visits to determine the local conditions and appropriate management responses to be funded. That is, flexibility of schemes and public advice may conflict with bureaucratic requirements for independent verification and inspection roles.

This all indicates a much reduced role for local staff and local involvement in goose management together with much reduced flexibility to coordinate different mechanisms and deliver species policy in a changing environment.

A summary of the likely characteristics and impacts is given in Table 7.5. Overall we conclude that SRDP is very unlikely to provide a sound basis for policy delivery due to expected rigidities in entry and payments rates. This would lead to uncertainty over the level and distribution of uptake and inflexibility to respond to changing circumstances. It would not provide a coherent policy mechanism that could address all issues in goose management.

OPTION 6 Delivery via standard SRDP options

Whereas option 5 related to incorporating local goose management schemes into the SRDP, another option would be to dispense with bespoke schemes in favour of standard ones. That is, under LMOs, CCAGS and RP, the SRDP currently offers a number of grassland and habitat management schemes that bear some resemblance to elements of local goose management schemes.

As with OPTION 5, use of the SRDP offers some funding and administrative attractions. Moreover, substituting standard schemes for bespoke ones would simplify administrative and governance complexity.

However, the same reservations to OPTION 5 would still apply and would be amplified by concerns over the absence (by design) of flexibility and co-ordination.

OPTION 7 Delivery via modified LFASS, SFP, National Envelopes

LFASS and the SFP Have some attractions for policy delivery because they do cover most of Scotland, draw heavily on EU funds and are relatively simple to administer.

However, their lack of discrimination between sites in terms of environmental pressures or values means that they would be very blunt tools for addressing goose management issues. In principle, this could be addressed by adjustments to cross-compliance requirements or eligibility criteria. For example, for the latter, National Envelope provisions or resurrection of tiered environmental payments under LFASS could be used to target payments on areas affected by geese.

Unfortunately, neither of these approaches is likely to be achieved easily since both require novel policy adjustments. That is, environmental National Envelopes are a new idea yet to be developed at the EU-level and LFA criteria are currently under review and unlikely to encompass much goose habitat within the definition of permanent and natural handicap. Moreover, any targeting would probably remain relatively imprecise and any management prescriptions would be vague.

Table 7.5 : Assessment of options for policy delivery

Options

SG cost implications

Effectiveness in policy delivery

Accountability and transparency

Value for money

Negative effects of change

Risks

1. No intervention

A saving of £1.3m -£1.6m per year

Risks to conservation status of goose species (particularly Greenland White-fronted Goose). No mechanism for addressing new issues.

Not relevant since no expenditure.

Not relevant since no expenditure.

Considerable conflict and political disquiet in some locations. Major impacts on other SNH activities with possible impacts on biodiversity conservation.

Cannot reliably predict farmer behaviour or conservation impacts.

2. Continued current delivery structure

Subject to a new round of local group bids in 2011. Costs may increase if agricultural input costs and/or product prices increase unless restricted by SG capping. Actual costs will not be known until 2011.

Consensus arrangements and potential for paralysis likely to limit policy delivery. No species differentiation at local level. The structure cannot easily deal with the problem of an increasing Greylag population. Likely to result in increasing costs in the future.

Shortfalls in governance, scrutiny and reporting amongst some LGMGs would remain.

No change and no improvement likely.

Not relevant since no change.

Structure may not be resilient if the total budget were cut substantially. The structure cannot easily deal with the problem of an increasing Greylag population. Poor communication between NGMRG and LGMGs would continue.

3. Modified current delivery structure

Not clear what level of cost-saving could be delivered through the NGMRG/ LGMG consensus-based mechanism. However, Table 4.5 suggests that savings of 30% and possibly higher on current costs should be negotiable.

Expanded remit gives potential for improved delivery of policy objectives, although consensus arrangements still likely to limit policy delivery, particularly on measures to manage goose population growth. Policy delivery may become paralysed by inability to achieve consensus.

Improved governance, scrutiny and reporting of local groups. Local groups will continue to be dominated by sectoral interests, which may limit the adoption of improvements in cost-effectiveness.

Should give improved VFM as compared with Option 2.

None.

Policy objectives aimed at limiting future damage and budgetary cost may not be deliverable by consensus, with consequent escalating costs in the future. No guarantee that improvements in cost effectiveness would be implemented. Structure may not be resilient if the total budget were to be cut substantially.

4. Centralised delivery

Could deliver greater cost saving than Option 3 and be more cost-effective.

Offers a much stronger ability to steer species policy by concentrating expenditure appropriately. In addition to management agreements, this option would need to have the facility to deliver public scaring and removals where appropriate.

Resolves issue of local governance and accountability. Information from goose counts and payment arrangements would be explicit and transparent.

Expected to improve VFM substantially due to cost reduction and the ability to select most cost-effective provision.

Loss of local involvement, experience and ownership. Loss of collaborative engagement in scheme design and development of solutions to issues 52. Administrative burden on farmers increased but not excessive.

Likely to be opposed by farming and possibly conservation interests. Possibly greater difficulty in obtaining monitoring data. Loss of cohesion in areas participating in the scheme, which may also lead to a degree of local tension.

5. Delivery via bespoke SRDP options

Public expenditure costs effectively reduced through partial EU funding and through a reduction in the % successful applications (through selection of the most cost-effective).

Very unlikely to provide a sound basis for policy delivery due to uncertainty over level and distribution of uptake and inflexibility to respond to changing circumstances. Does not in itself provide a coherent policy mechanism that could address all issues.

Resolves issue of local governance and accountability.

In principle very cost effective but if policy effectiveness is not achieved this could produce very poor VFM.

Would be strongly opposed by all interests. Loss of local involvement, experience and ownership. Loss of collaborative engagement in scheme design and development of solutions to issues. Administrative burden on farmers increased.

Increased tension from farmers and political discomfort. Considerable uncertainly about whether policy could be delivered in a coherent way.

6. Delivery via standard SRDP options

As above for option 5, with additional savings from further savings on administrative complexity.

As above for option 5, amplified by reliance on standardised measures.

Highly transparent in terms of payments. Centralised rather than local accountability.

As above for option 5.

As above for option 5 with even less local flexibility.

As above for option 5.

7. Delivery via modified SFP, National Envelope, LFASS

Significant reduction in SG expenditure through harnessing EU funds - particularly for SFP & National Envelopes but also through co-financing of LFASS.

Blunt instruments mean poor targeting and little flexibility or prescription, so unlikely to deliver effectively.

Highly transparent in terms of payments. Centralised rather than local accountability.

Poor.

As above for option 5.

As above for option 5, plus additional disquiet from SFP and LFASS recipients affected adversely by redistribution of expenditure.

7.6 Conclusions on policy options

Table 7.5 describes seven main mechanisms for policy delivery (including 'continued current delivery structure' and 'no intervention' options). These alternative mechanisms are associated with a number of different administrative and funding arrangements. We do not consider it possible to recommend a particular option because:

  • The extent to which public expenditure will constrain funding for goose management is not known to us.
  • The structure, prioritisation criteria and payment rates under a revised SRDP have yet to be established.
  • Some options imply reductions in payments to farmers or differential impacts on the concerns of interest groups. Given the history of conflict in relation to damage from geese, there is an important political dimension to the choice of how policy is delivered.
  • Finally, no policy option is dominant in the sense that it will create greater policy effectiveness at lower social cost and pubic expenditure, and without other undesirable effects. Trade-offs are therefore necessary and these cannot be fully informed by the information and analytical techniques available to us.

Nevertheless a number of salient conclusions can be reached:

  • Under OPTION 1 (No intervention) there are considerable doubts as to whether policy could be delivered by legal mechanisms alone, and the option would provoke strong reaction from farming interests.
  • OPTION 2 (Continued current delivery structure) has many undesirable features (including, poor governance and scrutiny, lack of transparency, expected inability to deliver policy change or constrain future policy costs). Whilst there are several options for reducing costs (see Table 4.5), these would not remove the fundamental issues associated with the current NGMRG remit and NGMRG/ LGMG structure.
  • OPTIONS 3 and 4 are examples from a range of options of alternative administrative structures that offer improved delivery. They both represent greater centralisation and greater flexibility in intervention.
  • It is not possible to fully evaluate the SRDP route ( OPTIONS 5 & 6) because the characteristics of the new programme have yet to be decided (or appropriately negotiated if there is a desire to include more specific goose options within SRDP in future). It is doubtful whether SRDP, even when revised, could deliver goose policy effectively. However, it merits consideration because the inclusion of geese in a more unified structure has the potential for administrative gains, and trade-offs between different directions of expenditure would be more explicit.
  • OPTION 7 ( SFP/National Envelopes/ LFASS) has the attraction of administrative simplicity and geographical coverage, but reaching such a position would require adjustments to current arrangements that may be difficult to achieve and will in any case still result in only very blunt instruments.

Contact

Email: Central Enquiries Unit ceu@gov.scot