PETER Clark of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation makes much of Scottish Government figures on the effect expenditure on grouse shooting has on local economies, and talks absolute nonsense (Letters, Apr 18). He is as guilty as the red-top press of using meaningless statistics to support a meaningless argument.

Before anybody leaps to condemnation, I grew up in a family which shot pretty much anything that moved and much which didn’t. I spent teenage school holidays and weekends working with the keepers on a large commercial shooting estate, and gave not a thought to what we were doing, but I grew up.

I realised that the cliche is absolutely true: game shooting would only be sport if the quarry had guns too!

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Aside from spurious economic arguments, anybody who derives satisfaction from shooting bundles of feathers, driven in panic over their heads, needs to take a long, hard look at themselves. Any skill involved would be eclipsed by shooting running skeet and, in this day and age, any pleasure derived from slaughter is utterly abhorrent.

I recall the wealthy yahoos who paid per day the equivalent of my old man’s monthly wage to stand on a ride and fire, usually indiscriminately, at hand-reared, terrified pheasants without even the prospect of anything more than being served a brace for dinner in the hotel – a brace which they hadn’t even shot because the chef preferred birds which had their necks wrung at the corn bins and were not full of lead shot – and shudder. My involvement was economic and unconsidered, but I dread to think what they really got out of it.

It may be the case that the percentage of generated income spent in the local community is as stated. The question is, 60-80% of what? Is there a comparison made with the economic impact of alternative activities? Of course not! Don’t be silly! Does anybody honestly believe that this lot have the slightest interest in anything other than conning the public into looking the other way?

Les Hunter

I’M never going to be sympathetic towards recreational violence and killing, however there is an argument (I’m not convinced by it, but there is) that driven grouse moors can be sustainable and even of some benefit as asserted by Peter Clark. However, as soon as moorland burning to encourage fresh heather growth is used – with resultant destruction of tree seedlings and innumerable species of insects and erosion of soils, particularly peaty substrates – any claimed ecological benefit must be suspect. The social benefits of local spending may also be misleading, as opening up landscapes to rewilding could well result in greater numbers of spending visitors than a handful of bloodthirsty “sportsmen” even if 80% of their spending stays within the area.

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As ever, don’t take my word for it. Google ecological impact of grouse moors and see what the majority conclusions are (preferably from reliable academic studies rather than from those with vested interests in the status quo).

The RSPB, for whom I generally have respect, take a nuanced view, not objecting to grouse moors if they are well managed and demonstrably sustainable, but they do usually point out that this is seldom achievable although management practices are improving. So grouse moors MIGHT be sustainable but in practice often are not, and other land uses are likely to be better and more accessible to be of benefit to a larger proportion of the population.

Ron Smith

MICHAEL MacLennan of Brora (Letters, Apr 19) makes a number of very relevant points. He is surprised to learn, as many others will be, that some of the members of the SNP’s NEC are not directly elected by the members. Some are in fact representatives of “affiliate groups”. Details of the current SNP NEC membership is available on the party’s website, however it is not exactly easy to navigate your way to the relevant page. The information is held at

The size of the NEC is something which may also come as a surprise to many SNP members. It has gradually grown over the years. Some might easily argue it is far too large and unwieldy at around 40 members.

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If you assume the party’s membership is currently around 70,000, each of the 16 regional members represents around 4,500 members. The membership of the affiliate groups varies from a few hundred to tens of thousands. In essence, if you choose to join one or more of the affiliate groups as a member, it could be argued that you are rather over-represented. A young, trade unionist, Asian, disabled, woman, SNP councillor would have a lot of representatives on the current NEC.

The party has more than 20 staff and a wage bill of more than £1 million. Mr MacLennan is correct when he states that a detailed party staff structure should be provided.

During the year I spent as a NEC regional member we never met in person due to Covid restrictions and had to resort to internet-based Zoom meetings, a very far from ideal situation, especially with 40 participants. It clearly did not make for good governance. I did not seek re-election in November 2021.

Brian Lawson
(SNP NEC West of Scotland Regional Member, Nov 2020-Nov 2021)