Scottish grouse moor survey highlights the huge benefits that DGS brings to rural businesses
A report released last week revealed that spending in Scotland’s remote rural communities by grouse moors increased to more than £15 million. The survey, carried out by Scotland’s six Regional Moorland Groups, found local businesses benefitted from spending throughout the shooting season.
25 estates responded to the RMG survey, with an average of over £600,000 of spending per estate – not including staff wages. This compared to an average of £515,000 the last time a similar survey had taken place.
Although many estates experienced a loss of income due to a poor breeding season for grouse due to prolonged snow cover and snow late into spring – meaning cancelled shoot days – the investment into remote communities increased by almost £100,000 per estate.
This just goes to show that even in years such as this one when the grouse numbers are low, the benefits that grouse shooting brings to the rural economy are substantial. Local businesses ranging from garages to feed businesses, builders and other tradesmen saw combined spending of £15,238,704 from grouse estates.
Just compare this to the spending that comes from other leisure activities in rural parts of Scotland – for example the North Coast 500 route, which was designed to help boost the north Highland economy. Far from bringing in the big bucks, the scenic route has seen locals complain of "dirty campers” leaving behind vast amounts of mess due to a lack of amenities, combined with a lack of income from the visitors, as many travel with their own food supplies and sleeping arrangements. “I hope someone is making some money out of this”, one resident of Applecross told The Times, “because I’m certainly not.”
In contrast, visitors to Scotland's grouse estates spend money on local hotels, in local shops, and in other businesses, from clothing and gun retailers to restaurants, taxi services and other travel companies. As highlighted above, the estates themselves spend millions of pounds on services, in sparsely populated areas where an income can be hard to come by. Of course, it's not only in Scotland that this applies. In England's uplands a very similar scenario plays out, where both estates and their visitors invest extensively in rural businesses, thereby providing locals with an income, and helping to provide an economic lifeline in very rural areas. The saddest part of the story is that when alternative uses of the uplands are proposed, the people who live and work there – and the businesses they run – are so rarely taken into account.