ScotWays have commented on the Wildlife and Natural Environment Bill. In particular, we are concerned that the proposed new duty on land owners to manage deer stocks in a sustainable way may lead to more constructed tracks and more fences in Scotland’s hills. We believe this could diminish the wild character and beauty of these places that so many people enjoy and, in the case of fences, have an adverse affect on statutory access rights.
Our full consultation response is set out below.
Wildlife and Natural Environment Bill Team
Landscapes and Habitats
The Scottish Executive
Dear Ms Garland
WILDLIFE AND NATURAL ENVIRONMENT BILL
Thank you for consulting ScotWays on the content of a proposed Wildlife Bill. Most of this consultation lies beyond ScotWays’ remit, so we do not respond to your long list of questions. Many of the proposals could have beneficial effects for public enjoyment of the outdoors, however, there is one main point that we wish to make from our own role in securing, protecting and promoting the enjoyment of public rights of access to land.
Underlying the proposals relating to deer, there is a degree of tension between nature conservation and upland land management, but it is possible that action on these tensions could bypass the values held by the wider public for enjoyment of open-air recreation in Scotland’s hills. Thus, the proposal for a new duty on owners for the ‘sustainable’ management of deer stocks implies more intensive management, which could in turn lead to more estate-road construction in the hills, and more fencing. Both would be unwelcome to those who resort to the hills, as diminishing the wild character and beauty enjoyed there.
More intensive management of moorland for grouse shooting is already having this kind of effect – including a surge of road building and fence construction in parts of the eastern Grampians. Many of these fences, constructed ostensibly to control deer (and thereby the tick and the louping-ill disease), are electric and constitute very unwelcome barriers to public access. A good number of these fences are not compliant with Part 1 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. So the outdoor recreation community would want to be involved in debate about how proposals for deer are to be implemented, were they to become law. More generally, action on all these proposals should have regard to statutory access rights.
It would be wonderful if care for Scotland’s great natural beauty were to receive the same level of administrative and legislative effort put to nature conservation.
You may put this response on the open public record.
John W Mackay