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26 May, 2017

SNH revokes licence on Raeshaw Estate after suspected wildlife crime offences

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has revoked a licence to control wild birds at Raeshaw Estates as a result of on-going concerns about wildlife crime.

Police Scotland is now investigating the potential offences on the Scottish Borders estate.

SNH imposed a general licence restriction on Raeshaw Estates in 2015 on the basis of clear evidence provided by Police Scotland that wildlife crimes had been committed on the estate. The estate challenged the restriction through a judicial review, but the restriction was upheld in March this year.

During a compliance check this month, SNH staff found multiple instances of breaches of conditions of an individual licence that had been granted to cover essential management activities on the estate. These breaches may also constitute offences under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, so SNH has reported the details to Police Scotland.

General licences allow land owners or managers to carry out certain management actions with minimal bureaucracy, largely relying on trust that land managers will carry out activities legally. This includes controlling common species of wild birds to protect crops or livestock. However, those land managers in which SNH has lost confidence may have their General Licences removed, as was the case at Raeshaw. The estate is then allowed to apply for individual licences to control wild birds, which gives SNH more control and oversight of the activities being carried out.

Robbie Kernahan, SNH’s Head of National Operations, said:

“‘After discovering several failures to comply with the terms, we have no other option than to revoke the licence. In cases like this, we have to take breaches of licences very seriously and will work with Police Scotland as they investigate this case.

“We hope this also spreads the message that we will take action to stop wildlife crime whenever possible. We’re committed to working strongly in partnership with Police Scotland, and other members of the Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime Scotland (PAWS), to stamp out wildlife crime in Scotland.”

Contact information

Name
SNH Media
Email
snhmedia@snh.gov.uk

Notes to editors

General Licences - The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 protects all wild birds. General licences permit authorised persons to carry out actions that would otherwise be illegal. They cover certain types of activity relating to birds, such as preventing damage to crops or livestock, preserving public health or air safety, and preventing the spread of disease. General licences cover situations which are regarded as relatively commonplace and where there is unlikely to be any great conservation impact. General licences avoid the need for people to apply for individual licences for these specific circumstances. General licences are subject to strict conditions, and abuse of them or failure to comply with the conditions could constitute an offence. For more information, see http://www.snh.gov.uk/protecting-scotlands-nature/species-licensing/bird-licensing/general/  

Restricting general licences – In 2013, Scotland’s then Minister for the Environment and Climate Change, Paul Wheelhouse, asked SNH to consider how general licences could be restricted, as part of a number of measures aimed at reducing raptor

Scottish Natural Heritage is the government's adviser on all aspects of nature and landscape across Scotland. Our role is to help people understand, value and enjoy Scotland's nature now and in the future. For more information, visit our website at www.snh.gov.uk or follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SNH_Tweets

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