The FFB Steering Group sent the following in an email to all 14 members of Moray Council’s Economic Development & Infrastructure Services Committee (ED&IS) today. If you wish to make your feels on this issue known before the Committee meets on 20th Sept 2016, you will find all the relevant Councillors email addresses at the end of this blog post. These email addresses are freely available on Moray Council’s website – we have simply collated them in one place for your ease of use.
Dear Councillors of the ED&IS Committee
Demonstration Supporting Peace on Findhorn Bay
In case you did not see the papers last week, on 31st August over 70 local people held a peaceful march from Kinloss to the Findhorn Bay LNR to mark the last day of peace before the shooting season starts again.
We need you to know that we cannot and will not accept an outcome that maintains the status quo of no regulation of shooting on Findhorn Bay. That would be entirely unacceptable to us and a slap in the face to the 811 Kinloss, Findhorn and Forres residents who signed the petition calling for a ban on shooting in the Findhorn Bay LNR last December.
The Clear Need for a Legally Enforceable Solution in the Form of a Byelaw
The inability of the shooting community to agree on voluntary shooting restrictions that meet all of their differing personal preferences clearly points to the need for a legally enforceable solution. In relation to the passing of a byelaw:-
- We are entirely fed up with the “no money” argument that Moray Council has repeated for over 10 years now. Public safety must be prioritised when deciding how to fill the hole in the budget;
- We cannot understand why every other significant estuarine LNR or NNR in Scotland already has a byelaw in place to control and reduce shooting, whereas Findhorn Bay does not (and note that this is precisely why more and more people are coming to Findhorn Bay to shoot – because it is like the “Wild West”, with no regulation whatsoever);
- We do not accept that the fear and cost of possibly having to hold a public enquiry is a reason for not promoting a byelaw – the Council needs to take a stand and promote a sensible byelaw – there are many examples of sensible solutions that shooters abide by already in place in Nature Reserves all over Scotland;
- We are sick of hearing the extremely lame excuse that “the Scottish government could veto a byelaw”. The fact is, every single byelaw in Scotland has to be approved by the Scottish Govt, and there is absolutely no reason why ScotGov would veto a byelaw, provided it is within the powers of the local council to enact. Moray Council clearly has statutory powers either to ban or to regulate shooting on Findhorn Bay, by virtue of Section 20(2)(b) & (c) and Section 106 of the National Parks & Access to the Countryside Act 1949.
We have called for a ban because we believe that this would be the best possible outcome for local people and for the wildlife on Findhorn Bay. It would also be in alignment with the actual objectives of the Local Nature Reserve, which are education, conservation and the wellbeing of local people. At the moment a large area of the Nature Reserve is little more than a shooting range for 6 months of the year. The Council is jeopardising the rights and safety of the many, for the misdirected “rights” of the few.
At the very least we need a byelaw that significantly restricts the areas where people can shoot, and the days of the week when people can shoot. Limiting shooting to just a few days per week would enable the promotion of goose and other bird-watching during the incredible migration of thousands of pink-footed and greylag geese each year. Note that goose-watching alone is an activity that both BASC and RSPB agree would bring in far more income to the local economy than shooting currently does (see their joint 1998 report Geese and Local Economies in Scotland).
Overview of the Main Problems
Currently local people’s wellbeing is significantly disrupted throughout the 6-month shooting season because:-
(i) they are woken up before dawn by loud shotgun fire near their homes, which carries on intermittently throughout the day and night on every day of the week except Sunday, and
(ii) they feel uneasy and reluctant to venture into their own Local Nature Reserve for six months of the year, because they fear bumping into men with shotguns, wearing camouflage outfits and balaclavas. Kinloss village may be next to the Army base, but soldiers are not in the habit of walking around carrying shotguns and wearing balaclavas over their faces.
There are also the problems of plastic cartridge and other litter being left behind by shooters, goose carcasses being found regularly around the Bay and in residential areas, as well as the use of illegal lead shot, which is potentially lethal to wading birds in wetlands. Note that between 300-500 Red-Listed Curlew roost and feed on Findhorn Bay during the shooting season. They are situated very close to where the majority of the shooting takes place in the South Eastern and Southern areas.
Ongoing Safety Concerns
As a final point, we have put you on notice a number of times now about the Health & Safety concerns that arise from people using shotguns in a local recreational area, and in the vicinity of residential housing. We have grave concerns that if the Council does nothing to resolve the problems on Findhorn bay, the issue will simply escalate and become even more confrontational. Someone could easily get hurt or killed if this happens. This is most likely to happen on Moray Council’s own land in the South East corner, where the majority of the shooting takes place. We don’t know how to get through to you on this point – are you waiting for an accident to happen before you finally do something?
There are so many reasons for a byelaw – we urge you to take a stand on behalf of your local Ward 8 constituents and not to give in to pressure from the national shooting lobby, which clearly does not give a damn about local people’s well-being, or the well-being of the Findhorn Bay LNR.
The Steering Group
Friends of Findhorn Bay
This email was sent to all ED&IS Committee members:
Councillor Aaron Mclean (Ward 8 – Forres, SNP), George Alexander (Ward 8 – Forres, Ind), Gordon Cowie (Deputy Chair, Ward 3 – Buckie, Ind), Gary Coull (Ward 2 – Keith & Cullen, SNP), John Divers (Ward 7 – Elgin City South, Labour), Graham Leadbitter (Ward 7 – Elgin City South, SNP), Fiona Murdoch (Ward 1 – Speyside Glenlivet, Ind), Pearl Paul (Ward 1 – Speyside Glenlivet, SNP), Ronald Shepherd (Ward 2 – Keith & Cullen, Ind), Dennis Slater (Ward 5 – Heldon & Laich, Ind), Sonya Warren (Ward 3 – Buckie, SNP), Allan Wright (Ward 5 – Heldon & Laich, Cons) and Committee Chair, John Cowe (Ward 5 – Heldon & Laich, Ind).
Their email addresses are: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
It was also copied to the two other Ward 8 – Forres councillors, Anne Skene (Ind) and Lorna Creswell (Ind). Their email addresses are: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.