Report suggests horticulture could replace grouse moors

A report from a Scottish think tank says horticulture, forestry and alternative power generation are better uses for land currently used for grouse shooting.

The report from thinktank Common Weal assesses the economic and jobs impact of a range of possible uses for grouse shooting land.

Common Weal's Back to Life: Visions for an Alternative Future for Scotland's Grouse Moors says grouse shooting's value per hectare per annum gross value added is £30, while horticulture is about £12,000, forestry £900, biomass £2,600, solar £11,000, housing £12,000, onshore wind £900 and agriculture £500.

The report says grouse shooting current land area is 1,500,000 ha – 18% of Scotland’s land, and annual economic impact £32 million. Jobs created are 2,640, hectares required for one job: 330 and the impact: "Highly pollutant, serious harm to wildlife, lack of biodiversity, poor land management, prevents more productive use of land."

Horticulture's current land area in Scotland is 21,028 ha - 0.26% of Scotland’s land area. Annual economic impact is £261 million and jobs created: 7,370. Value per hectare is £12,412 and hectares required to create one job is three. 

The report says: "Scotland’s horticulture industry is expanding fast and is in need of land on which to grow. Unlike agriculture it is not wholly dependent on topsoil (through the use of compost, hydroponics and other grow mediums) and so can be deployed where new agriculture cannot. In recent years the total area of vegetables grown in Scotland for human consumption increased by 9% (1,500 hectares) to 18,200 hectares. Rapid technological developments means that practices such as light-assisted growing (meaning fruit can be grown all year round undercover) are now economically viable."

Conclusion is: "Scotland is a country rich in natural resources. For many years people have argued that our patterns of land ownership and use squander that resource and that Scotland as a whole fails to make the most of our nations resources. For just as many years, land owners have claimed that they and the uses they currently make of land are the only option available, that alternative uses are not viable. This has been the argument which has underpinned the case for continuing to maintain almost a fifth of Scotland’s private land for the sole purpose of shooting grouse.

"This report has explored the evidence behind these claims. Not only is it easy to find alternative uses for that land which create more jobs and greater economic outputs than maintaining them as vast shooting estates, it is actually quite hard to find uses which have worse returns of jobs and outputs. The debate about the future of Scotland’s land should not assume that what we have is all that we could have. We need to re-evaluate how we allocate and use land and we should look at what public policy levers can be used to get the maximum national benefit from what is a national resource."


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