AN OPEN letter has been sent to Scotland's First Minister, highlighting concerns that the Scottish Green Party's election proposals could 'destroy a significant part of Scotland's cultural heritage'.

Behind the letter are the 5300 members of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, who believe their livelihoods and that of their families could be under threat, if the next government were to call an end to all game management and angling in Scotland – as proposed by the Greens.

The SGA claim that not only will such a move place thousands of rural workers on the dole, impacting on their wellbeing and the future prospects of their family, but would impose 'crippling burdens' on the public purse.

The letter urges Nicola Sturgeon not to bargain with the livelihoods of rural workers, in order to gain the Greens support over future policies.

Chairman Alex Hogg wrote: "I fully appreciate that this manifesto is not your party’s own. I am aware, though, that any coalition requires policy trade-offs in return for budget support. I seek at the very least reassurance from you, on behalf of our worried members, that any future coalition will not see the SNP adopt Green policies which will lead to mass redundancies amongst sectors of the traditional rural workforce of Scotland.

The Scottish Farmer:

SGA chairman Alex Hogg


"The Manifesto I mention does not imply the loss of a few jobs. It means thousands of jobs. Furthermore, the vague alternatives look like they will create less jobs, are entirely un-costed, un-defined and will require yet more public investment if they are ever to come to pass at all.

"They may be a wish-list, issued to lure voters at election time, but they are causing distress in the minds of people growing fretful over their futures, their children’s education, where they are going to be living and how they are going to be making a wage in five to 10 years’ time. We have already received many communications about it."

Mr Hogg goes on to highlight that there could be potential loss of around 13,100 jobs, adding that this doesn't include the jobs that could be lost if a reduction in sheep numbers were to be pursued, as he claims has been suggested in the Green's manifesto.

"I understand not everyone might agree with shooting, deer stalking, fishing, hill farming or wherever but these activities are simply providing the income stream which enables families to continue to live as part of their own communities," he continued. "Remove it and the burden falls on the state at a time when economic recovery is paramount.

"Covid-19 has taught us a lot about how society operates and what is important. While many of the wealthy environment NGOs were furloughing staff and waiting for the public purse to re-open again, land managers were helping to ensure food security and supply, so the supermarket shelves weren’t bare.

"The privately financed shooters, who were carrying out the pigeon and crow control for crops and the gamekeepers managing foxes at lambing time were all part of that process and the fabric and arrangements of rural life and land management which the Green party seem desperate to dispose of.

"During lockdown gamekeepers and farmers put themselves at risk as volunteers and used their skills and equipment, freely, to help the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service extinguish wildfires which have caused unprecedented greenhouse gas emissions in recent years," he added.

"Low ground gamekeepers have continued to feed game and other birds such as songbirds through the hungry gap of a hard winter this year, despite having their shoot income cut to bits due to Covid 19. Heather management has helped the cause of our declining pollinators. River ghillies have continued to run mink traps and strip invasive plant species from our riverbanks, despite having reduced angling bookings throughout the year.

"The Greens’ election literature states that they are looking for a fairer and greener Scotland. I question where the fairness lies for the thousands set to lose their jobs and homes, or how ‘just’ their transition will be," he concluded.


The Scottish Greens responded to Mr Hogg's comments: "It's disappointing that the SGA continue mislead their own members and the public on our costed manifesto proposals for a green rural recovery that will create over 6,000 new jobs," said the party's environment spokesperson Mark Ruskell. "Our £150m nature restoration fund would in particular be available to River Trusts and landowners to invest in improving riparian habitat and tackling invasive species, restoring salmon populations while also benefiting anglers, that's something ghillies should welcome. A National Farmland Trust, reforms to support tenant farmers and funds to support local food economies will all contribute to that wider rural recovery while creating opportunities for diversification."