Scottish Government legislation affecting rural Scotland has once again frustrated countryside organisations.

The Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill will establish licensing schemes for the killing of red grouse and the use of specific traps to catch wild birds, as well as restricting muirburn which will require a licence all year round.

The new law also contains powers which could give individuals such as Scottish SPCA inspectors the power to investigate some wildlife crime.

The Bill eased through its final stage at Holyrood by 85 votes to 30.

Recently appointed Agriculture Minister Jim Fairlie said the legislation would not have been needed if the practice of raptor persecution had been ‘shut down’.

He said there would be no ‘victory parade’ in the Bill’s passing as he recognised the concerns of those who work ‘legally and responsibly’ in moorland pursuits.

Mr Fairlie said: “There are those who disagree with the principles of this Bill.

“But had the grouse shooting community shut down raptor persecution, had stopped killing our most iconic birds of prey, we would not have had to legislate in this way.

“But, sadly, they didn’t shut it down, so now it’s up to us to make sure that they do.

“This Bill has caused concern for folk who work legally and responsibly in moorland pursuits, and I completely understand that.

“I want to be clear there should be no victory parade here because this government recognises the economic contribution and their efforts in combating biodiversity laws.”

Ross Ewing of Scottish Land and Estates said the Bill ‘represents a seismic change for rural estates and their employees, including gamekeepers and shepherds’.

He added: “The legislation goes far beyond the stated intention of deterring the persecution of raptors by introducing a broad range of relevant offences under which licences can be suspended or revoked. Many of these offences bear no connection to land managed for grouse shooting.”

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) cautioned that the legislation would have a ‘ruinous impact’ on the rural economy.

BASC Scotland director Peter Clark warned that despite securing a number of positive amendments, the Bill ‘still poses a risk to sustainable grouse moor management, predator control and muirburn, and will be ruinous to the rural economy and the species that gamekeepers work to protect’.

Scottish Conservative rural affairs spokesperson Rachael Hamilton said the legislation was ‘conceptually flawed’ and reflected the ‘derision the government has for rural Scotland’. She said: “This is just a classic example of the Green tail wagging the yellow dog and the antipathy of the Scottish Greens towards people who live in rural areas.

“Country sports are like catnip for the Scottish Greens and we should be in no doubt that the disproportionality in this scheme is their doing, with SNP ministers too weak to say no – and again rural Scotland suffers the consequences.”

Alex Hogg, chairman of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, also addressed specific concerns about the snaring ban included in the Bill.

“We have deep fears for the future of red-listed species because of the snaring ban. The impacts of this step must be robustly reviewed and challenged, if need be,” Mr Hogg said.

“This Bill is the biggest change we’ve faced since devolution. We now go straight into new deer legislation.”

He added: “We take great heart from the words of MSPs and panellists who spoke the truth so strongly, during committee evidence, on what gamekeepers deliver for biodiversity and communities.

“It’s time to move forward, mindful of that endorsement. We will not be broken.”

However, the high-profile TV presenter and wildlife campaigner Chris Packham described the legislation as a ‘gamechanger’ which showed Scotland was leading the way with ‘meaningful change’.