An Angus MP has suggested Chris Packham’s attempts to ban driven grouse shooting are reckless and will destroy jobs in “very fragile” rural communities.
BBC Springwatch star Chris Packham is one of three campaigners to put forward a petition calling for an end to shooting, a valuable source of jobs in the Angus glens.
More than 100,000 people signed the petition, sparking a debate in the UK parliament.
Mr Packham, alongside campaigners Ruth Tingay and Mark Avery, submitted the “ban driven grouse shooting wilful blindness is no longer an option” petition.
Dave Doogan, an SNP MP for Angus since 2019, said: “It’s all very well for campaigners calling for an outright ban, but without a plan for how you would replace the jobs lost, then I will stand against it.”
The petition’s title was “troublesome”, Mr Doogan said in the debate, before defending the role of shooting in his ward during the debate.
He said: “I know very keenly how important employment on the estates is for communities in the Angus Glens—for the schools, hotels, shops and the petrol station.
“We must not let anyone kid themselves that this is an issue of just one job here or another job there; it is about the living viability of very fragile, very rural communities and economies.”
From 4.30pm today, MPs will debate a petition relating to grouse shooting, started by naturalist @ChrisGPackham.
Ahead of this #GrouseShootingDebate, Chris spoke about why he started his petition 👇
— Petitions Committee (@HoCpetitions) June 21, 2021
Chris Packham’s petition called for a ban on shooting, claiming it is bad for wildlife and the environment in Angus and other areas with links to the sport.
It is the latest in an ongoing struggle between those for and against the sport.
Would Chris Packham endorsed ban wipe out jobs in fragile rural communities?
The Angus MP said the shooting industry offers an important lifeline to the rural economy in the Angus Glens.
Speaking after the parliamentary debate, he said a ban goes too far and do not take into account the effect it could have on people’s livelihoods.
“If we’re removing this economic activity, how is a family that’s got a gamekeeper going to support themselves?”
He said there is “clearly work to do” in order to modernise some estates, but that he feels this change is happening.
“What I am supportive of is sustainable and proactive reform. No industry can operate outside of public opinion.”
His comments come in the wake of licencing rules being implemented by the Scottish Government.
Mr Doogan described the decision to implement licencing as “an achievable balance”.
What do campaigners Chris Packham, Ruth Tingay and Mark Avery have to say?
Mark Avery, a anti-shooting blogger, started the petition alongside the Springwatch presenter.
He said: “We are pleased that there is change in the right direction happening in Scotland in the form of licencing.
“We were pleased to see his (Mr Doogan) recognition that licencing could be a benefit.
“There is change happening in Scotland which we would also like to see in Westminster. The petition’s title was more focussed on the lack of actions there.”
Mr Packham was not available for comment.
However, he did explain his reasons for starting the petition in an interview with Bristol East MP Kerry McCarthy.
Among them was that raptors are being targeted because they prey on grouse, which gamekeepers want to ensure healthy numbers of for shooting.
He said: “They [raptors] are not tolerated. As a consequence of that, we see ongoing wildlife crime.”