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Grouse shooting delivers major benefits to rural Scotland, SNP government report finds


The dependency that many remote moorland communities have on driven grouse shooting has been known for years, however that doesn't stop certain individuals and groups trying to ignore this fact.

Many of these people calling for ban on driven grouse shooting, like the Scottish MSP Alison Johnstone and the Revive Coalition, claim the sport could just be replaced by 'eco-tourism'.

If there was ever any proof needed that eco-tourism simply won't work then it was abundantly clear in August when thousands of visitors headed to the Peak District to see watch a lost bearded vulture, disturbing the other wildlife resting there in the process, and contributed absolutely nothing to the local economy. They all brought packed lunches and flasks of tea, and prefered to leave their homes at 3am rather than support a local B&B or a pub.

These facts have now been made clear in Scotland after the Scottish Government today published research showing the economic and social benefits brought by driven grouse shootings to some of the most deprived and isolated moorland communities in the country.

[80% of those attending a driven grouse shoot are earning money]

This follows a similar report carried out in England earlier this year by the University of Northampton into the social and economic impact of driven grouse shooting which came to the same conclusions.

This was reported yesterday in The Telegraph with this article by their Scottish Political Editor Simon Johnson.

The article says:

"The research found that it sustains many jobs and delivers high levels of local and regional investment at no cost to taxpayers.

Grouse shooting delivers major economic benefits in Scotland's rural communities and using estates for woodland instead would result in job losses, a major SNP government study has concluded.

The research found that it sustains many jobs and delivers high levels of local and regional investment while receiving no public funding.

A widespread transition away from driven grouse towards woodland creation would likely result in job losses "in some regions", it said, although some of this could be offset through tourism development.

The study also warned that shifting moorland use to conservation, woodland and farming - as favoured by environmental groups - would require an extra cash injection by "wealthy individuals" or the taxpayer.

Any loss of sporting revenues is also "likely to increase funding requirements for essential deer management", it said, with the extra money needed "at a time of increasing pressure on public budgets." The report, led by Scotland’s Rural College in conjunction with the James Hutton Institute, also said that 64 per cent of gamekeepers had been subjected to threatening behaviour or abuse at least once in the previous year.

It was published prior to the Scottish Government’s response to the independent Werritty review on grouse moor management, which recommended a licensing scheme be imposed if raptor killings did not improve within a five-year probationary period.

The review also suggested ministers should increase regulatory control of muirburn, which is carried out to give grouse areas to live, and said land managers should report annually on the number of mountain hares culled to protect grouse from disease.

Gamekeepers, land owners and country sports groups last night welcomed the new assessment and argued that SNP ministers must heed its conclusions.

Sarah-Jane Laing, chief executive of Scottish Land & Estates, said: "The findings are definitive proof of the benefits - good for jobs, the environment, species conservation and attracting high quality tourism to Scotland – all without being any drain on the public purse." Alex Hogg, chairman of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, said: "The report researchers have substantiated what we have always said. Driven grouse shooting has disproportionate employment and economic benefits in the areas where it occurs. It helps to keep the heartbeat in fragile communities and the lights on in the glen houses."

Dr Colin Sheddon, director of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, said: "While conservation enterprises rely on public funding for 79 per cent of their revenue, grouse shooting and deer stalking enterprises require no direct public funding whatsoever." 

Liz Smith, the Scottish Tories' Shadow Environment Secretary, said: "Such is the scale of its contribution, it would be profoundly irresponsible of the Scottish Government not to consider the socio-economic implications of imposing unnecessary and damaging regulation on the sector when it formally responds to the independent review."

The report found driven grouse created a full-time job for every 1,446 hectares of land compared to 4,000 ha for forestry, 2,100 for conservation and 1,793 for sheep farming. The figure for walked-up grouse was 4,685 and for deer stalking 4,005.

However, the study said deer stalking complemented other activities on estates such as woodland management, helping to "maintain a larger year-round staff team."

Other uses such as forestry, woodland creation and renewables were found to generate much higher levels of income per hectare.

But it said between 47 per cent and 86 per cent of this came from the public purse, whereas driven grouse and deer stalking required no taxpayer contribution.

A Scottish Government spokesman said ministers would give "careful consideration" to the findings and will respond to the Werritty review this autumn.

The full article can be found here:


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