The Scottish environment secretary, Roseanna Cunningham, has called upon Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), the government agency responsible for deer in Scotland, to make use of new powers under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016 (“the Act”).
The management of wild deer involves planning, organising and controlling a number of interests such as environmental and economic considerations and deer welfare. To the concern of the deer management sector, the reforms form part of a wider policy to regulate the traditional system of voluntary deer management.
On 28 June 2016, sections 78-82 of the Act were brought into force, giving SNH additional powers and duties in respect of the management of deer including the power to require owners and occupiers to produce Deer Management Plans within 1 year of service of a notice. SNH is responsible for approving the plans and it may also amend them in consultation with the deer management group.
The penalties for non-compliance with control schemes is increased to a maximum of £40,000. SNH can select owners to make a return showing how many deer of each species and of each sex are planned to be culled in the following year and there is a £1,000 penalty for non-compliance. SNH must carry out a 3-yearly review of compliance and the effectiveness of the Code of Practice on Deer Management and report its findings to the Scottish Ministers.
Ms Cunningham said:
“While some progress has been made in the management of our wild deer following recent changes to legislation and through the work of the Association of Deer Management Groups, we know further improvements are needed to minimise the costs of deer road vehicle collisions and replacing fencing, as well as reducing the environmental impact.”
“By setting up an independent group on deer management, encouraging SNH to use their full range of powers and improving deer management plans, we hope to address the main challenges and ensure we protect our environment and the interests of the public, as well as support the rural economy.”
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