The Scottish rural development programme 2014 to 2020 supports effective and sustainable management through the agri-environment climate scheme, which promotes land management practices that protect and enhance Scotland’s moorlands.
The Scottish Government is providing £14 million in 2019 for peatland restoration, which contributes to effective moorland management and is an important element of our approach to tackling climate change. We have established an independent group to consider how we can ensure that grouse moor management is environmentally sustainable and compliant with the law.
Lyme disease is on the rise around Scotland, and the bacteria that cause the disease are carried by ticks, which live on deer. The United Kingdom deer population of 1.5 million is already at its highest level for almost 1,000 years. The Moorland Association believes that this points to yet another example of the benefits of effective moor management. What steps are being taken by the Scottish Government to control the deer population? Will it consider granting more licences under the Deer (Scotland) Act 1996?
The sustainable management of deer that meets the public interest is of the utmost importance to the Scottish Government. Scottish Natural Heritage has a statutory responsibility to further the conservation, control and sustainable management of all wild deer species in Scotland, and SNH works with a range of partners, including the Association of Deer Management Groups and local deer management groups throughout Scotland, to develop effective planning and management.
Through SNH, Scotland’s deer sector is supported to produce a range of best-practice guidance on the effective management of wild deer in Scotland, including guidance with a focus on public safety, food safety and deer welfare.
SNH has undertaken a review of the progress of deer management in Scotland, and it is due to publish its findings shortly. The Scottish Government will consider that report, alongside recommendations from the independent deer working group, which is also due to report later this year. We will of course provide a response to that in due course.
I am happy to meet Rachael Hamilton to discuss and have a further look at the second part of her question.