Deer Management Strategic Board minutes: September 2022

Minutes from the meeting held on 12 September 2022.

Attendees and apologies

  • Cate Turton, Deputy Director of SG NRD (Scottish Government Natural Resources Division) (Chair) 

  • Robbie Kernahan, NatureScot

  • Donald Fraser, NatureScot

  • Paul Roberts, NatureScot

  • Simon Hodgson, Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) 

  • Grant Moir, Cairngorms Natural Park Authority (CNPA)

  • Nicola Colquhoun, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority (LLTNPA)

  • Alan Hampson, Scottish Forestry

  • Hugh Dignon, SG NRD

  • Robyn McCormack, SG NRD (Secretariat)

  • Sam Turner, SG NRD

  • Brodie Wilson, SG NRD


  • Donald Henderson, SG NRD

Items and actions

Welcome and review of meeting of 13 June 2022

Cate welcomed everyone to the group, and introduced Paul Roberts the new project manager taking leading on the deer project for NatureScot.

The group agreed the minutes from the meeting of 13 June 2022 and noted that these are now being published on the Scottish Government website.

Actions from previous meeting – 13 June 2022 

It was agreed that work would continue to develop and refine this leadership role. A face to face meet with site visit in May would be arranged before the next Board meeting in June. Face to face site visit – rescheduled to 31 October.

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.

The board agreed to develop a communications and stakeholder engagement plan bringing together key messages, aligning from the vision and objectives. Specifically outlining year 1 opportunities, supported by FAQ on key topics. 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. NatureScot to work on this when their project manager is in post. To be discussed at meeting 12/9.

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.

Project plan overview

Paul Roberts introduced himself as the new Deer Management project manager, taking forward recommendations of the Deer Working Group for NatureScot. 

Paul presented his paper to the Board which highlighted the timeline, highlight report and risk register for the Strategic Deer Board. The paper was well received. 

NatureScot reiterated the ask for a colleague from ARE to sit on the strategic board. 

AP (NS) – Paul agreed to circulate an updated timetable/graphic that board members could share with colleagues and Ministers. 

Ambition for new regulatory framework

Robbie Kernahan presented his update paper on the ambition for a new regulatory framework to facilitate a steer on the extent of change which should be pursued in developing new deer legislation for Scotland.

Board members raised the following points:

  • how far we would go in terms of setting cull targets versus cull approval systems
  • the need to ensure cohesion with other legislative and policy work such as land reform, agriculture and including at workstream level

Scottish Government acknowledge an appetite for a revised regulatory framework, however timing of legislation is dependent on parliamentary timetable. This also has to be taken in the context of legal advice. 

NatureScot agreed to work on the options for the paper ahead of the October Away Day.

Workstream updates

Legislation workstream

The Scottish Government provided an update for the legislation workstream. The legislative timetable has yet to be laid out, but SG wildlife management colleagues are working closely with legislative and legal colleagues in the meantime.

AP (NS) – NatureScot are to provide the Scottish Government with an update on trials into night shooting and lead ammunition.

Regulatory workstream

NatureScot provided an update on the regulatory workstream. They advised the group is currently testing two elements; current regulations and a combination of new regulations and incentives. NatureScot provided a written update ahead of the meeting: 

Two functions: 1) identify where use of regulatory powers are applied with full range of existing powers utilised and tested (link with operational delivery workstream) 2) Paper in development which outlines the opportunities for more joined up approaches to regulation across, deer forestry and agricultural provisions by identifying challenges, (limitations of) existing approaches/powers, with opportunities for new regulatory approaches and powers for deer management.

NatureScot raised that there will be key opportunities for collaboration between workstreams as this progresses and this collaboration will be important in delivering priority actions. 

Incentive workstream

A paper was circulated to board members in advance of the meeting. The Incentive workstream chair asked the board to consider the paper and advise if they agreed with the direction of travel suggested. 

The paper considers levels of enforcement and options for incentivisation to keep deer numbers at a sustainable level. 

The chair of the Operational workstream offered to work in parallel by having trial sites for incentive and operational delivery.

Board members also queried whether the framework included hill sheep and asked if noted that the framework should consider the wider agriculture environment. 

Operational workstream

The chair of the operational workstream provided an updated to the group, the group is lining up with regulation by identifying a number of priority sites across Scotland with potential for collaborative, landscape-scale deer management and measuring them against a range of criteria.

The group have begun engaging with stakeholders and making links interested parties to make them aware of and encourage buy in of the operational delivery required to sustainably manage deer across Scotland.

Communications strategy and stakeholder engagement

Paul Roberts circulated a paper in advance of the meeting and provided an update on the finalised comms agreement. The aim of this agreement is to put ensure arrangements are in place to provide a cohesive approach , from the representative organisations of the strategic board.

AP (NS/SG) – A detailed comms plan is required setting out a timeline for potential ministerial announcements and opportunities for engagement with stakeholders and interested parties.

Any other business

Board members agreed there was opportunity to integrate workstreams ahead of delivery of the recommendations and it was suggested that chairs should get together to discuss this further ahead of the away day on 31 October 2022.

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