30 June 2011

Modernising game law

The first orders of the new Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011 come into force this week, Environment Minister Stewart Stevenson announced today.

Some of the main measures coming into force will modernise game law and abolish game licensing, updating legislation which is up to 200 years old.

The Act also enables the transfer of wildlife licensing from Ministers to Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) to help provide a simplified and streamlined process for applicants.

Speaking ahead of his visit to the Scottish Game Fair in Scone, Mr Stevenson said:

"The Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011 will help us to deal with some of the most pressing issues in Scotland's countryside. This first tranche of provisions which come into force today modernise the law dealing with game, bringing game species into line with other wild birds.

"They also simplify the law on poaching and sweep away archaic laws that reflected the working relationships and ownership of the Scottish countryside of two centuries ago. Abolition of the game licence is part of this process.

"Meanwhile ending the division of responsibilities for species licensing with the transfer of all these functions from Ministers to SNH will help to provide a simple and efficient procedure for applicants, while continuing to maintain robust protection for rare and vulnerable species.

"SNH will also deal with the new muirburn licensing procedures when they come into effect from August, allowing land managers more flexibility in how they manage heather moorland while ensuring ground-nesting birds are not endangered.

"The commencement of the Act is a major step forward in the protection of our wildlife and natural environment and I hope it will help conserve Scotland's unique natural assets for many future generations to come.

"SNH will take on the majority of licensing duties previously undertaken by the Scottish Government and administer some new areas of licensing.Ben Ross, SNH's Licensing Manager commented:"We are delighted to take on this important additional licensing role. We are committed to providing a first class service and over the next 18 months we will be reviewing our policy, guidance, forms and processes to ensure we can do this effectively."

The Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Bill was introduced to Parliament on June 9, 2010 and was passed unanimously by Parliament on March 2, 2011.This is the first commencement of elements of the Act, with further measures to follow late in the year.

The licensing changes take place from June 30, 2011 whereby Scottish Ministers will delegate all existing licensing powers under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, Protection of Badgers Act and Habitats Regulations to SNH.

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