In mitigation

MITIGATION is an in-word at the moment. This week, 'the action of reducing the severity, seriousness, or painfulness of something' (as the dictionary defines the word) was bandied about as the answer to how we, in Scotland, will cope with 'naughty' beavers now that they have become a protected species in Scotland.

There have been lots of people using the 'M' word in reference to these destructive/productive rodents since the new law making it illegal to kill or trap them came into force on Wednesday.

However, the important thing is that this will be a test of the resolve of the industry and the various environment agencies involved in policing this scheme – plus Police Scotland – to zero in on just what their rights to encroach on 'good agricultural land' will be. This is a fresh start, a line in the sand but the industry is looking for more than just words, it will want action to be done – and seen to be done – in controlling their spread and potential damage.

Already, beavers have spread throughout the Tay system – notwithstanding the fact that still has to be said and accepted from a political standpoint, they were released illegally ­– and that while the industry agrees that in most of the catchment area they can deliver the bio-diversity so often bandied about in their favour, there has to be a strict acceptance from all involved in this that action may be/will be needed in some key areas.

This will mean that some conservation groups will have to face up to the fact that lethal control may be necessary as a last resort in the areas of most damage. It will be interesting to see just how this pans out ... talk is glib, but action is entirely another thing.

In a wider sense, a fairly rigid and sensible approach by all concerned could act as a talisman to us all to show that stakeholders can work together to provide sensible solutions to species re-introduction. It could provide pointers to the sea eagle problem on the West Coast, which remains just that ... a problem which those charged with managing them, feel unable to step forward to come up with some credible solution for.

This does not mean wholesale slaughter, it just means that problem animals are targetted for destruction, or relocated. However, in the case of sea eagles, relocation will simply mean that they will give someone else a headache, or fly back again! If a tough stance gains the ire of the rastamentalists, then so be it – but when push turns to shove, all involved should stand up and speak with one voice; farmers, landowners, environmental agencies and those who undertake the task.

Our 'Mr Fixit'

AND SO the great IT fiasco is over (see our lead page).

It's only taken close to a decade to resolve but now the industry will be hoping that Fergus Ewing can move away from being the Loan Arranger (geddit), to being Mr Fixit for the post-Brexit vision of Scottish agriculture.

If, indeed, we ever do leave the EU?