£15 million bonus despite wrecked grouse season
Downstream spending in remote communities by Scotland’s grouse moors increased this year to over £15m despite the season being decimated by snow.
A survey by Scotland’s six regional moorland groups, also found jobs on grouse shoots being maintained.
Despite average losses of nearly £140,000 each due to cancellations, downstream spending actually increased to an average of over £600,000 worth of contracts per holding.
The last time a similar survey was carried out, average spending by each estate generated £515,000 worth of income for downstream businesses.
While the loss of income will be a blow to the shoots, the continued investment has been a lifeline for remote communities recovering financially from the pandemic.
Prolonged snow cover in March, followed by further snows in May, saw a poor breeding season for red grouse nationwide.
Many estates cancelled their programme as there were no excess birds to harvest whilst others scaled back.
While this meant less visitors and local seasonal employment, associated businesses such as garages, trades, maintenance, feed businesses, builders and services still benefitted from considerable combined spending of £15,238,704.
Lianne MacLennan, Co-ordinator of Scotland’s regional moorland groups, said: “On the back of Covid-19, grouse moors have seen some leaner years of late.
“We found there was no reliance on furlough money but the biggest surprise was the continued spending.
“That will have helped a lot of small family businesses in these rural areas, as well as local suppliers at a critical time of recovery. That is a good news story.”
The Scottish Government is to introduce a licensing scheme for grouse moors this term as MSPs bid to crack down on a small minority, drawn into allegations of raptor persecution.
Gamekeeper Les George from Grampian Moorland Group, said: “Moors require significant investment with no income guarantee and we are close to the tipping point. Scottish Government could effectively lose an important rural sector if it bows to too many extreme demands on licensing.