Scottish government land reforms could hurt Upper Deeside workers say SGA

MY BROTHERS KEEPER: Gamekeepers show solidarity for each other
MY BROTHERS KEEPER: Gamekeepers show solidarity for each other
  • Over 100 rural workers could lose jobs
  • Gamekeepers Association up in arms

Ending rate exemptions for deer stalking and shooting could sacrifice over 100 rural worker jobs immediately, according to the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA).

SGA announced a year long initiative yesterday, outlining the vital role land labourers and their families play in community life.

The proposed abolition of business rate exemptions for country sports and the imposition of new angling taxes have been identified by the SGA as two potential causes of rural job losses.

At present, the organisation represents 5300 members with around 1500 of those employed as full-time gamekeepers, land or river ghillies, wildlife managers and rangers.

After taking soundings from its membership, the feeling is that 7 per cent of those may face redundancy and housing problems immediately if radical land reforms are pushed through.

Launching ‘ The Year of the Rural Worker’, at the body’s AGM in Perth, Chairman Alex Hogg urged politicians from all parties not to make stretched families pay the price for change.

We oppose bad management of all kinds, whether the ownership is public or private.

Alex Hogg, SGA Chairman

“As an organisation, we are aware there are situations in which land reform can work. We oppose bad management of all kinds, whether the ownership is public or private.

“However, removing business rate exemptions for shooting and stalking won’t help achieve a million acres of land in community hands by 2020, it will simply cost the job of a working person on every marginal estate or shoot across Scotland.

“Businesses adapt to financial change. The overwhelming view of our members is that, on estates where sporting profits are tight, that adjustment will be a wage.

“That is likely to be a worker on a modest salary who receives a house to bring up a family in the local community. These individuals give a great deal back to Scotland, for which they take little in return, but they keep the heartbeat in small places. They have had nothing to do with the way land ownership patterns have emerged, yet it is them who will be made to suffer. That’s not social justice. If land reform is such a priority for Scottish Government, they must find a better way than by placing working people on the dole.”