A SPORTING estate in Perthshire is at the centre of controversy as an official restriction has been placed on its use of the General Licence for pest control.

RSPB Scotland has welcomed the announcement by Scottish Natural Heritage of the restriction imposed on the Edradynate Estate, which follow previous General Licence restrictions imposed on grouse moors in Stirlingshire and the Scottish Borders.

Head of species for RSPB Scotland, Duncan Orr-Ewing, said: “We are pleased to read the SNH announcement restricting the use of the General Licence in these cases. In May 2017, the cabinet secretary for the environment announced a package of new measures designed to protect birds of prey, including the consideration of all legal measures that could be used to target geographical areas of concern, and this is part of that approach.

“We look forward to hearing soon what other measures are to be implemented to act as meaningful deterrents to the continuing crimes against our vulnerable birds of prey, said Mr Orr-Ewing. "We believe that these current measures also need to be allied to an effective licensing scheme for driven grouse shooting in particular, where any illegal and bad practice substantiated by the public authorities, would also result in the ultimate sanction of licence removal.

“We envisage that any licensing system could work along similar lines to those that SNH have used here for Open General Licence removal, that is based upon stringent checks and balances of police evidence and SNH advice, to provide safeguards for those sporting businesses which work within the law and follow best practice.”

RSPB Scotland’s head of investigations, Ian Thomson, added: “We are disappointed that no prosecutions have arisen from either of these cases. It has been reported by the authorities that these latest restrictions are as a result of evidence of serious wildlife crime offences being found, with clear links to local gamebird shoot management established by the subsequent investigations.

"This part of Perthshire has had an appalling history of raptor persecution and this case followed the discovery by police of two poisoned buzzards. The other restriction was imposed after RSPB investigations staff passed video footage to police of a gamekeeper allegedly setting illegal traps, baited with a dead woodpigeon, very close to a goshawk nest in NE Scotland.”

A spokesman for Edradynate Estate said: “We are aware of the decision by SNH to restrict the estate’s general licence. The estate intends to appeal this decision.”


AT THE same time as restricting Edradynate Estate's use of the General Licence, SNH announced that it was imposing an additional restriction on an unnamed individual, who would be prohibited from General Licence use for three years from September 15, 2017.

In the absence of any more detail, Edradynate was at pains to point out: "The restriction of a General Licence for an individual, detailed in the same SNH news release, does not pertain to Edradynate Estate. It is a separate matter regarding a restriction applied in a different region of Scotland."

Campaign website Raptor Persecution Scotland commented: "What happened to the transparency that was promised when former Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse first announced this new measure to tackle ongoing raptor persecution? He said he expected details of General Licence restrictions to be published on the SNH website to act as 'a reputational driver'. That’s not going to happen if SNH withholds the details, is it?"