Green MSP poses legal questions over Moray Council decision

Geese on Findhorn Bay - row continues with legal challenge (pic: Patsy Goodsir)
Geese on Findhorn Bay – row continues with legal challenge (pic: Patsy Goodsir)

A LEGAL CHALLENGE is being probed by a Green MSP over what he describes as Moray Council’s failure to halt the shooting of ducks and geese on a nature reserve.

Arguments for and against wildfowling at Findhorn Bay have raged for weeks, culminating in a petition for a total ban on shooting being discussed by Moray Councillors on Tuesday.

On learning that a second petition in favour of a licensing system was being prepared, members of the economic development and infrastructure services committee decided to postpone a decision until officials, local councillors and both parties had been fully consulted.

One local councillor, Anne Skene, proposed a compromise between the warring parties that a voluntary no-shooting area be extended, with councillors agreeing that should form the bases for future discussions.

However, despite that position being accepted by the petitioner “in the spirit of compromise”, Highlands MSP John Finnie has now written to the Scottish Government and Police Scotland regarding “on-going breaches of law in relation to the legal practice of wildfowling at Findhorn Bay”.

Mr Finnie said: “Whilst a so-called “compromise” is often the way ahead it’s not the answer in this case.

“This issue is fundamentally about what the purpose of a nature reserve is. Findhorn Bay should be a tranquil location where visitors and locals alike can appreciate nature.

“Instead, locals feel unable to visit due to feeling intimated by significant numbers of camouflage covered shooters intent on killing wildlife, whose practices many in the shooting fraternity criticise.

“I have written to Police Scotland asking that they examine whether, as recovered cartridge boxes seem to suggest, that the regulations on the use of lead shot over wetlands have been breached.

“I have also written to the Scottish Government asking that they use powers provided under nature conservation and natural habitat legislation to address the “poor practices” Scottish Natural Heritage tell me take place and the “disturbance” to geese and ducks the RSPB tells me takes place to bring about a total ban on shooting within the reserve.”