Part 6 of the Land Reform bill proposes that shootings and deer forests are re-entered into the valuation roll, meaning that they will be liable for paying non-domestic rates.
After reviewing the evidence, the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee (RACCE) published its first report in December on the Scottish Governments proposed Land Reform Bill.
The Committee believes that ‘it may be appropriate to tax larger, profitable, commercial sporting shooting enterprises’ but ‘ the case for change has not yet been made’ and recommended that Scottish Government ‘clarifies its policy intentions’ with regards to sporting rates.
The full report is available here.
On 5 January 2016, the Scottish Government responded to the RACCE Stage 1 report. The full response is available here.
A joint letter from, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and the Constitution, John Swinney MSP, and Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Dr Aileen McLeod MSP, provided additional information to the Committee. It is available to read here.
The RACCE Committee considered Stage 2 of the Land Reform bill between 22 January and 10 February. The GWCT provided Committee members with a light briefing note setting out our concerns with the current sporting rate proposals and the subsequent impact on wildlife conservation. Our three concerns are:
- Unquantified risk to the environment
- Unclear policy drivers
- General failure to acknowledge conservation benefits from game management.
An amended view of the bill showing all the amendments accepted at Stage 2 is available here.
Stage 3 of the Land Reform Bill was considered by the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday 16th March. The bill, as passed, will reintroduce sporting rates in Scotland. An amendment by Michael Russell MSP, for deer forests, was accepted and requires the Assessor to take into consideration ‘such factors relating to deer management’ as the Assessor considers appropriate when calculating rates.
The bill can be viewed here