Updated Scottish legislation means an estate could be punished for the actions of a rogue employee or for evidence ‘planted’ by activists
Scotland’s rural communities are braced for the publication of the Wildlife Management (Grouse) Bill, which will introduce a licensing scheme for grouse shoots. The Scottish government carried out a consultation on the bill towards the end of last year and the text, which is to be placed before parliament, is expected imminently.
The bill arose from a review conducted by Professor Alan Werritty into grouse shooting in Scotland. The review chose not to recommend the introduction of licensing but suggested waiting five years and then reviewing the status of key species around grouse moors. However, the Scottish government pushed ahead with licensing.
Crucially, the government will not need to meet the criminal standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt but is expected to be able to take away a licence “on the balance of probabilities” that wildlife crime has occurred.
The relatively low burden of proof needed to take away an estate’s licence has led to…