Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser is backing the call from the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) that Covid-19 represents a “tangible threat” to the forthcoming game shooting season.
The politician, who represents the Mid Scotland and Fife region, feel that shoots across the country are at a critical stage of preparation for the season but is anxious that there are no assurances that the sport can go ahead.
Mr Fraser feels this could have “serious implications” to Perthshire’s rural economy, especially to the ‘Glorious 12th,’ which sees the grouse shooting season begin in August.
A ‘Value of Shooting’ report, produced by PACEC for all shooting organisations, including BASC, showed that shooting sport in Scotland supports some 8,800 full-time jobs and contributes £38 million directly to the Scottish economy.
The report also states that shooting sports supports an estimated 75,000 full-time jobs in the UK. Added to this are figures produced by the Game Shooting Census by GunsOnPegs, which reveal that the spend on shoot days amounts to £1.25 billion, including £250 million on employment and £82 million on hotels across the UK.
The analysis states if this is reduced by 50% because of restricted shoot days or a fall in demand, this could take £628 million of liquidity out of the rural economy.
Commenting, Mr Fraser said: “These statistics show the importance of game shooting to the Scottish and UK economies. Many shoots take place in Perthshire and these businesses will be keen to proceed with preparations for the Glorious Twelfth.
“However, they are rightly concerned whether the shoots will go ahead due to the impact of Covid-19. If they don’t this will have serious implications for the Perthshire economy, and across the country.
“The Glorious 12th is an integral part of the countryside calendar and leads to a considerable financial boost to the Perthshire economy. The uncertainty if this will go ahead is a matter of real concern to many people.
“I would urge the Scottish Government to adopt the forthcoming framework for good practice which is being prepared by BASC and others. This framework will ensure shooting’s important socio-economic and environmental contributions can continue while keeping people safe.”
And BASC Scotland’s Ross Ewing, added: “Shooting makes a vital contribution to rural Scotland. Many rural businesses are helped through the quiet Autumn and Winter months by people coming to Scotland to shoot. In addition, the countryside management associated with shooting is critical for the preservation of key habitats and species and takes place without any investment from the public purse.
“Covid-19 represents a tangible threat to the forthcoming game shooting season. BASC along with other shooting organisations are working hard to produce a framework for good practice which will come into effect following the cessation of lockdown in Scotland. This will ensure that shooting can take place in a way that will minimise the risk of viral transmission between participants.”