We met at the Royal Society of Edinburgh to hear evidence from a number of invited guests. Having considered in detail the 33 responses to our questionnaire and our own further analyses, we had a number of questions we wanted to put to a range of specialists.
Before the Hearing, I intimated to the Group that I have a number of meetings leading up to Christmas. I am looking forward to meeting Ms Mairi Gugeon MSP, Minister for Rural Affairs and Natural Environment, and separately Hugh Raven, Anne Gray and Simon Thorp from Scotland’s Moorland Forum. Having received an invitation to attend the launch event for ‘Revive’ (a coalition for grouse moor reform), as the Chair of the group advising Ministers on grouse moor management, I felt it appropriate to attend in a listening capacity.
Turning to the Hearing, we heard from Mr Robert Scott-Dempster, a lawyer; Sarah-Jane Laing, Executive Director of Scottish Land and Estates; Professor Jeremy Wilson, Head of Research in Scotland for the RSPB; Robbie Kernahan, Head of the Wildlife Management Activity in SNH; Constable Charlie Everitt, a member of the National Wildlife Crime Unit; and Dr Adam Smith, Director Scotland, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust. This proved highly informative, and I am grateful to all our witnesses for so patiently and carefully answering our many questions.
Following the Hearing, we travelled north for a visit to several estates in Speyside. On 2 November we had a briefing from the Cairngorms National Park Authority. This was followed by a presentation and tour of the RSPB’s Abernethy Reserve in which we saw at first hand the effects of promoting forest regeneration up to the tree line coupled with a small amount of grouse moor management under lease to the former estate owners. In the afternoon we visited another estate in which driven and walk up grouse shooting formed a small part of a highly diversified business model designed to ensure long-term financial viability. As with our previous estate visits, the Group welcomed this opportunity to engage with owners and other key stakeholders and see at first hand grouse moor management in practice.
Professor Alan Werritty (Chair)
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