ORKNEY MSP Liam McArthur has sought assurances from the Scottish Government over geese control, highlighting the 'devastating' impact increasing numbers of Greylags were having on arable land on parts of the island.

Mr McArthur called on cabinet secretary Fergus Ewing to reveal future plans to manage geese numbers and urged him to lend his support to re-starting adaptive geese management programmes to tackle the growing numbers of the species on crops and farm land in Orkney.

The Orkney Greylag Goose adaptive management programme, managed by Scottish Natural Heritage, was introduced in 2011 with the aim of enabling local people to control the resident greylag geese population.

“The adaptive management programme was successful at least in halting the dramatic rise in greylag geese numbers in Orkney,” explained Mr McArthur. “ Since it came to an end, however, there appears to have been a worrying return to the sort of trends we saw from 2001 onwards, when the population was estimated to have grown fifteen-fold.

“The impact these sorts of numbers have on crops and arable land can be devastating, while there is also a potential risk of knock on consequences for other bird populations,” he warned.

Mr Ewing said that he had 'no hesitation' in agreeing to encourage SNH, NFUS and all parties to find a solution to what he recognised was a ‘serious problem in places like Orkney’.

Mr McArthur continued: “I welcome Fergus Ewing’s agreement to urge SNH to work with the local farming community and other partners in Orkney in identifying a solution that can help address this problem in the longer term. I know that SNH is actively exploring options and look forward to seeing these emerge in the near future,” he concluded.