Deer Management Strategic Board minutes: December 2022

Minutes from the meeting held on 15 December 2022.

Attendees and apologies

  • Simon Hodgson, Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) (Chair)
  • Hugh Dignon, Scottish Government, Nature Division (SG ND)
  • Donald Fraser, NatureScot
  • Alan Hampson, Scottish Forestry
  • Simon Jones, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority (LLTNPA)
  • Robbie Kernahan, NatureScot
  • Robyn McCormack, SG ND (Secretariat)
  • Grant Moir, Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA)
  • Paul Roberts, NatureScot
  • Gordon Watson, LLTNPA
  • Brodie Wilson, SG ND


  • Donald Henderson, Deputy Director, SG ND

Items and actions

Welcome and review of meeting of 12 September 2022

Simon welcomed everyone to the meeting noting that he was chairing in Donald and Cate’s absence.

The group agreed the minutes from the meeting of 12 September 2022. AP (SG) – Robyn McCormack to publish the minutes of that meeting on the Scottish Government website now that they are agreed.

Outstanding actions from previous meeting – 12 September 2022

  • the Board agreed to further develop and refine the vision statement at the next leadership session, crystallising the vision, binding the Board and providing clarity of intent. Discussed at meeting – in review
  • to consider resource needs for workstream delivery for next Board meeting. Added to paper
  • NatureScot/SG agreed to develop a communications and stakeholder engagement plan on behalf of the Board bringing together key messages, aligning from the vision and objectives. Specifically outlining year 1 opportunities, supported by FAQ on key topics. A detailed comms plan is required setting out a timeline for potential ministerial announcements and opportunities for engagement with stakeholders and interested parties. Discussed at meeting – in review
  • the group agreed it would be useful to include a project planning timetable, including key milestones until 2024 would be useful. Paul Roberts provided an update of the project plan. He will circulate a graphic that can be shared with the Board
  • the group agreed it would be useful for someone from ARE to be on the Project Board and also the workstreams. SG to pursue a representative that can attend. AP from meeting of 13/06/22. Group reiterated ask for ARE rep to be included in the Board and suggested John Kerr as a member to be approached
  • Paul agreed to circulate an updated timetable/graphic that board members could share with colleagues and Ministers. AP from meeting of 12/09/22
  • NatureScot are to provide the Scottish Government with an update on trials into night shooting and lead ammunition. Completed 

Agenda item 3 – workstream updates

A paper containing updates from each of the workstreams was circulated to the group in advance of the meeting to inform discussion.

Legislation workstream

NatureScot provided an update for the legislation workstream and updated the group that a ministerial submission would identify recommendations to be progressed through secondary legislation.

The group noted there would be a requirement to consult with relevant stakeholders and gave thought to benefits of regular engagement prior to a formal period of consultation once the legislative timetable is clear. It was advised that NatureScot would be meeting with a Deer Management Round Table Sub-Group on 20th December.

AP (NS) – Send summary of secondary legislation to group members.

Regulatory workstream

NatureScot provided an update on the regulatory workstream. They advised the group there was understandable overlap with the legislation workstream and that efforts to ensure alignment are ongoing.

It was noted that it was proving difficult to align with RPID and they had met with ARE representatives to try to improve this.

Operational application to current regulations is being applied and NatureScot is looking at priority sites to apply them.

Incentive workstream

A paper was circulated to board members in advance of the meeting. The incentive workstream chair suggested that it would be good to sit down with key members of the board and senior ARE colleagues.

The Chair outlined the different tiers of incentives framework and discussed the importance of both impact assessments and data when setting targets for deer.     

Operational workstream

The chair of the operational workstream provided an updated to the group and NatureScot presented the maps circulated to the group in advance of the meeting.  

It was noted that the operational workstream needs to be more visible outwith the board.

Director of SG Enfor would be meeting with the Minister and Scottish Government circulated the email with queries on deer management around the group.

Agenda item 4 – achieving SBS: scale, scope and pace of deer management and rationale for new legislation

Robbie Kernahan introduced the paper that was circulated to board members in advance of the meeting and set the context ahead of the discussion. The group welcomed the paper and noted it was useful in pointing out the scale of the task.

Group members raised concerns around managing expectations and that with a reduction of deer will come the need to ensure there are people willing to do that. This includes resource, infrastructure and utilising of the product. This is a significant increase in capacity across the public and private sector.

It was noted that the government have a PfG commitment to introduce deer legislation this parliamentary term but that timing of this has yet to be confirmed.

The paper contains three approaches on how to progress with deer management in Scotland, the group had a full and frank discussion, highlighting the relevant implications of each approach.

(AP) The strategic steer from the board was to progress with approach 2, the legislation workstream agreed to take the steer away and reflect this in advice to Ministers.

Agenda item 5 – programme management mpdate

Paul Roberts circulated an update with a paper in advance of the meeting. He advised that progress has been made in creating programme management tools which have been shared with colleagues in Scottish Government.

Whist there is more work to do on that, the main priority has been creating the tool which tracks progress on developing the 99 recommendations of the Deer Working Group Programme.

The high level milestones and risk register are for the group to review these link back to recommendations and highlight progress against the timeline.

Agenda item 6 – comms plan update

The Group discussed opportunities for stakeholder engagement and comms over the next quarter at both Ministerial and official level.

The Group agreed that further consideration should be given to championing best practice and case studies where there have been successes as examples alongside areas where further attention is required.

The group agreed for comms to be set as a standing agenda item.

Any other business

The next meeting is due to be held on 8 March 2023, there was a suggestion that this could be an outdoor visit involving livestock management and ensure that ARE colleagues were invited. (AP) (SG) – Robyn to pick up with Gordon.

An online meeting is to be arranged between now and then.

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