National Goose Management Review Group minutes: May 2018

Minutes from the NGMRG meeting of 16 May 2018.

Attendees and apologies


  • Hugh Dignon SG (Chair)
  • Morag Milne, SNH
  • Colin Shedden, BASC
  • Jonathan Hall, NFUS
  • Martin Kennedy, NFUS
  • Patrick Krause, SCF
  • Claudia Rowse, SNH 
  • Rae McKenzie, SNH 
  • Jess Shaw, SNH
  • Bill Dundas, RPID


  • Karen Ramoo, SLE
  • Keith Connal, SG
  • Gill Hartley, SASA
  • Eileen Stuart, SNH

Items and actions

Minutes (23 November 2017, Paper 1) and matters arising

1. The minutes from 23 November 2017 were approved and most of the action points have been completed (see Appendix 1).   

2. Under matters arising we agreed to set up a working group to explore  extension to the sale of goose meat. We have EC approval for sale to 31 March 2019 using the controls that will be in place under the transitional arrangements in the AM Pilot areas.

3. AP: Morag to invite representatives including from NFUS, BASC, SNH’s Natural Larder project, Food Standards Scotland to a first meeting to explore the extension of sale in mid-June. 

Goose Policy review – consultation with LGMGs - Paper 2 (circulated 6 February 2018), Policy Review - Paper 3 - Rae McKenzie and Claudia Rowse

4. In response to a consultation with LGMGs Rae received submissions from 2 individuals and one behalf of the Uist LGMG. The responses sought greater representation from LGMGs at NGMRG meetings, suggested the addition of tourism representatives to the NGMRG and concerns wre raised about the level of funding for goose management. These issues are recorded in the policy review.    

5. SNH sent the policy review to the Scottish Government on 30 March 2018. The Scottish Government will invite the Cabinet Secretary to comment on the review and will then send a copy to the ECCLR committee (as they have asked to see it). 

Adaptive Management Pilots – policy review – Paper 4 – Morag Milne 

6. Paper 4 is a first draft of the policy review for the Adaptive Management Pilots. Once members of NGMRG have commented on the review it will go out to consultation to LGMGs in June. It will then be submitted to the Scottish Government in July 2018

7. The review describes the AM Pilots, and how effectively they met their objectives. It also makes recommendations about the more immediate next steps to take.

8. LGMGs have commissioned marketing studies to help inform longer term plans for greylag goose control. These should be available to the NGMRG by the next meeting.

9. AP: Members are invited to comment on the structure of the AM Pilots’ review and to advise if there are any gaps that need to be addressed. Please respond by 30 May 2018.

10. Suggestions from the meeting focused on the next steps but on the review it was suggested that:

  • the review does provide a clear and concise account of the AM Pilots
  • we should aim to publish the review
  • the review should say where the revenue from goose meat sales went

11. Suggestions about the future management of greylag geese included:

  • deregulate – identify the existing administrative barriers to the control of quarry species and which barriers can be removed
  • different economic models could apply to each of the pilots
  • LGMG input is essential to develop adative management policy
  • farmer input to the NGMRG is essential
  • LGMGs work well together and joint discussions will be more productive than one-to-one consultation with individual groups
  • the NGMRG should be aware of LGMGs’ views and have sight of the business models that the LGMGs are preparing before considering the long term future for greylag goose management
  • a key concern for some communities, Mull for example, is that there is limited capacity to shoot geese because the number of people who are able to shoot is limited/diminishing
  • in other places, e.g. Tiree, the capacity to shoot geese is limited by the ownership of shooting rights
  • the Uist LGMG want continued government funding at about £30k/annum for greylag control
  • central government support should be allocated to control quarry species of geese
  • farmers experience the same damage from Annex 1 species as they do from quarry species and this makes for tension between, for example, Tiree and Islay. It was suggested we change goose policy or work harder to convey the message that the policy priority is for species with greater conservation need

12. Patrick raised some queries about the role of individual members of SNH staff who had visited Uist. The visits were welcomed but Patrick expressed some frustration that decisions about goose policy had not been made as a result. Hugh reminded us that the NGMRG advises government about goose policy; this is not the role of individual members of staff – not even SNH’s chief executive.

13. AP: Members are invited to comment on the way forward for future greylag goose management by 30 May 2018.

Islay Goose Strategy – verbal update – Rae Mckenzie

14. About 90 holdings signed up to the four-year goose scheme agreements in 2017. About £25k of the 2017/18 Scheme budget had been re-allocated as a result of the Goose Scheme- agri-environment incompatibility checks. The LGMG reallocated this money to purchase additional marksman time to deliver the  target bag of 3,600 Barnacle geese. Roughly 80% of the target was delivered by marksmen (3007 birds) and about 20% by farmers (numbers to be confirmed when we have all of the farmers’ bag returns).

15. The shooting protocol was amended for 2017/18 to allocate bag limits to each SPA area rather than to individual farms. This gave the marksmen greater flexibility and helped them to deliver their targets efficiently.

16. The 2017/18 bag limit was the largest to date. As a result, shooting activity has become more visible and has resulted in some complaints, queries and challenges to the strategy. This has made the year particularly challenging for members of the goose team. These challenges have been discussed at LGMG meetings and the LGMG is satisfied that the strategy is being delivered as agreed and that this work should continue.

17. Next year, we anticipate the bag limit may be smaller as goose productivity was lower in 2017.

18. Hugh thanked SNH staff for the significant amount of work that has gone into several strands of work over the last six months – most notably: State Aids; State Aid compatibility checks & the Policy Review. 

Goose Schemes – State Aid, Compatibilities Checks – verbal update – Morag Milne

19. The EC approved the application for State Aid cover for the goose schemes on 9 April 2018. This cover runs until the current schemes end in spring 2021.

20. In October 2017 SNH introduced a series of compatibilities checks to ensure the support offered to goose scheme participants does not duplicate any other government payments (for example, AECS Scheme payments). SNH checked the 2017 Goose Scheme applications against agri-environment agreements/applications. 

21. This year SNH will check the 2018 AECS applications to make sure that they are compatible with existing goose scheme agreements. SNH Goose Scheme leads will undertake these checks. If they find any incompatibilities, SNH will advise applicants that they can, where possible, amend goose scheme contracts to remove the incompatibility (by accepting a lower goose scheme payment rate, moving goose scheme area to a different land parcel). We expect the number of holdings with both a 2018 AECS application and an existing goose scheme is small; only seven holdings had both at 13 April 2018. Further cases may arise up to the 31 May application deadline

22. Retrospective compatibility checks will be undertaken for the 2016/17 goose scheme agreements and any ‘overlapping’ agri-environment contracts. 

23. SNH has let a contract to gather information about farming practice in goose scheme areas and comparator farms to inform the development of future goose schemes. This contract will run over a three-year period.  

GSAG report – Paper 5 – Jess Shaw

24. Paper 5 summarises the key points that arose from GSAG’s last meeting on 23 April 2018. Jess introduced the paper and the science strategy table that details the research, monitoring and surveillance work to support the delivery of the Scottish Government’s goose policy. This table was last updated in 2013 and GSAG has begun to review it. It was agreed that GSAG should continue with this work, and aim to develop a science strategy that will deliver future goose policy (once the future goose policy is announced). The GSAG will provide NGMRG with a new version of the science strategy table at its next meeting.

AEWA update – verbal update - Rae McKenzie

25. AEWA met in 2017 to discuss a flyway plan for all three flyways for populations of Barnacle geese (Svalbard,  Russia and Greenland). Through the process of developing a flyway plan AEWA aims is to set population ranges, and secure international agreement about how these goose populations are managed. Having international agreement should allow individual countries greater flexibility in the management they choose to take whilst still meeting the requirements of the Natura regulations.

26. The group has set up an agriculture task force and it will consider the definition of agricultural damage.

27. The next AEWA meeting will be in June 2018. Any proposals will be brought back to the NGMRG after the next AEWA meeting.


28. Management of the Uist Barnacle geese will be an agenda item for the October 2018 NGMRG meeting.

29. The role of the NGMRG and its terms of reference will be a substantive agenda item for a future NGMRG meeting. SNH will draft suggestions for discussion.

30. Date of next meeting: 5 October 2018

Appendix 1

Action points outstanding at 16 May 2018

Action points from 23 November 2017

Progress at 16 May 2018

SNH will circulate a paper about the new compatibilities checks it has introduced, to explain the process to those land managers that may be affected.

Information published on SNH web pages.

Where the total payment issued under goose schemes is to be reduced as a result of the compatibilities checks (to avoid ‘double funding’), LGMGs will be able to retain the saving to spend on local goose management. LGMGs are invited to identify how they wish to spend this saving and to discuss their proposals with the NGMRG. 

On Islay the monies were used to pay for additional marksman time, on the Solway scaring equipment was purchased.

The role of the NGMRG and its terms of reference will be a substantive agenda item at its next meeting.

Pending SG response to the goose policy review.

Rae will consult LGMGs on the content of the goose policy review, and ask them to provide a consensus response by 5 January 2018.


SNH will speak with NFUS to set up a working group before Christmas.


SNH will include a list of action points in the review of the adaptive management pilots and a timetable for them.


All to write to Morag to identify agenda items for future meetings.

None suggested

NGMRG minutes: May 2018


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Scottish Natural Heritage

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