XR Dundee: ‘Don’t Shoot’ action at Dundee Airport

Extinction Rebellion has a message for would-be grouse shooters flying into Dundee airport from today (12 August).

Banners hung on fence: End Wildlife Persecution and Rewild Scotland and Don't Shoot

With the climate emergency wreaking havoc on every continent, and biodiversity in the grip of the sixth mass extinction, there are still a few people who consider it sport to shoot wild birds in numbers far in excess of what they could eat.

The inglorious 12th August is the start of the grouse-shooting season in the UK (it’s illegal before that date) when the elite few head for the hills. Shooting creatures for fun may seem distasteful to most of us, but it is the wider land management that lies behind it that has caused serious ecosystem damage. Red grouse are a native bird, part of the natural ecosystem and therefore subject to the usual population-limiting pressures: predation, food scarcity and competition with other creatures. Grouse-shooters want to be able to shoot lots of grouse without the annoyance of having to search for them, so shooting estates are artificially managed to raise the density of grouse by increasing food availability (burning vegetation to increase heather shoots), eliminating competition (killing mountain hares) and eradicating predators (foxes, weasels, stoats and birds of prey). Creating such an artificial density of birds makes them especially vulnerable to outbreaks of avian flu, potentially spreading this lethal disease that is currently ripping through fragile seabird populations. 

The Courier published an article on 17 March detailing how Russian oligarchs own large Scottish estates, often controlling them through companies based in tax havens.  There have been calls for these estates to be seized as part of sanctions against Russia.

There are extensive estates in Angus managed for grouse, such as Invermark, Glen Clova, Glen Ogil, Kinnettles and Glen Prosen. A glance at the satellite imagery of these areas makesclear how scarred and brutalised the land is. The handiest airport for shooters to access these estates is Dundee, which is why we are here today.

Of course grouse shooting supports a few jobs, but these are mostly seasonal and poorly-paid, with the huge sums paid by rich shooters going into rich owners’ pockets, not to local people. Scotland’s wild lands could be restored to be so much more: attracting photographers, naturalists, families and local residents wanting to experience nature. At the moment, our hills are impoverished, barren and virtually devoid of life. Despite many visitors coming here to see golden and white-tailed sea eagles, Scotland is one of the most nature-depleted places on earth, yet we have enormous potential to restore our ecosystems, capturing huge quantities of carbon, ameliorating flooding and offering local staycations that help people understand their native wildlife while supporting local producers, hoteliers, restaurants and more with an enormous potential for local community wealth building. Indeed, it may be the only way to achieve so many benefits so rapidly.  This transformation could happen quickly with emergency legislation to address land use and management, including seizing land that funnels Scottish money into Russian hands.

Two years ago on this day, as readers will remember, a landslip near Stonehaven caused the derailment of a train, killing three people. Poor land management, as well as extreme weather due to the climate emergency, undoubtedly contributed to this disaster. Only by allowing the uplands to rewild and diversify can we build resilience and prevent further loss of life. This huge resource could allow Scotland to make a major contribution to carbon drawdown and biodiversity recovery.

The airport itself is anachronistic in that it is almost exclusively used for leisure and private flights, polluting the local area and contributing to greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the planet, melting pole and glacial ice, thus raising the sea level which the airport itself is perilously close to. By clinging to short-term profits they risk losing everything.

On seeing a wounded hare, Robert Burns wrote:

‘INHUMAN man! curse on thy barb’rous art, And blasted be thy murder-aiming eye; May never pity soothe thee with a sigh, Nor ever pleasure glad thy cruel heart!’

For further information about this action, please contact Dr Kate Treharne 07563363741
and for photos of previous XR Dundee actions see Facebook @ExtinctionRebellionDundee

Clare Cooper, co-initiator of Bioregioning Tayside, said: “We all need to do everything we can, urgently, at every scale to restore biodiversity and enable nature restoration.”

Maggie Chapman, Green Party MSP for NE Scotland said “The Scottish Green Party has always opposed the gross misuse of our landscapes for grouse shooting and other bloodsports. At a time when we need to use our land to meet the needs of our people, and to avert climate breakdown, it is particularly egregious that we continue to see land used in this way. It needs to stop. And stop now.”

Rewilding and the rural economy | Rewilding Britain