Rural Law

As a child of the 1980s, The Really Wild Show introduced me to all kinds of wild animals throughout the world. I had to fit in watching it between my after-school chores which typically involved bedding and feeding farm animals (much less wild and much less interesting in my youthful view). But fit it in I did, because it was one of my favourite shows.

Here we are in 2015, and I still love wildlife and wildlife shows. I’m not alone in this – it seems a large proportion of the general public shares my fascination. However, does this mean that I should be supporting the “rewilding” of our countryside here in the UK?

Wednesday 15 July saw the launch of a new organisation, Rewilding Britain. Founded by George Monbiot, it’s caused a bit of a stir by suggesting that we should be bringing back species such as bison, wolves, lynx and wild boar.

So is it a good idea or a Really Wild one? (Sorry, couldn’t help myself)

Understandably, the agricultural sector is expressing concernNFU Scotland point out that farmers are justifiably concerned at what the introduction of predators could mean for their livestock. The Scottish Crofting Federation has also come out in opposition, commenting that “There are enough threats already to crofting agriculture without this.”

It is interesting that the Cairngorm National Park Authority has issued a statement making clear that, despite apparent suggestion to the contrary, Rewilding Britain is not endorsed by the National Park.

Perhaps all of this is a bit of a storm in a teacup, given that Scottish Natural Heritage has issued a statement confirming that, amongst other things, it has no plans to reintroduce any more animals to Scotland at this time. However, those doing business in the countryside will undoubtedly remain concerned about the Rewilding Britain campaign to bring of wolves and lynx into our hills and forests.

Putting aside the headlines about predator species, the more pressing concern for rural land managers is the longer-running debate on the introduction of beavers. Scottish Natural Heritage recently issued a report to the Scottish Government, which had been requested by Ministers back in 2014, to help them decide whether to permanently reintroduce beavers to Scotland. The report outlines the options for the future of beavers in Scotland and a decision is expected from the Scottish Ministers shortly.

Reintroduction is being sought by a number of conservation bodies about farmers in particular remain concerned about the damage beavers can cause.

We await further developments with interest.

Lorna McKay

Associate at Brodies LLP
Lorna is an Associate in Brodies’ land and rural business team. Lorna is experienced in a range of rural property matters including the purchase and sale of farms, estates and woodland, agricultural
holdings, fishings and trust and executry conveyancing. 
Lorna McKay