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Chamber and committees

Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee

Meeting date: Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Agenda: Decision on Taking Business in Private, Ferry Service Inquiry, Petitions



Satellite Tags on Raptors (Monitoring) (PE1750)

The Convener

Welcome back. Our next agenda item is consideration of three petitions. I refer members to paper 3, which provides some background information on each petition, each of which we have considered before as a committee.

The first petition that we will consider is PE1750, which was lodged by Alex Hogg of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association in August 2019. It calls on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to introduce independent monitoring of satellite tags fitted to raptor species in order to assist the police and courts in potential wildlife crime cases and to provide data transparency.

On 15 March, we agreed to keep the petition open and to write to NatureScot and Police Scotland for views on the implementation of the new data-sharing protocols in the first year and on the robustness of the data that is being gathered. We also agreed to write to the Scottish Government to ask for its views. All three have replied. I also note that we have received a late submission from the Scottish Gamekeepers Association.

I invite the views of committee members on how we should take the petition forward, and I refer you to paragraph 11 of the meeting papers.

Mark Ruskell

Obviously, the satellite tagging of raptors is hugely important—not least because it enables us to detect wildlife crime—but the process needs to be robust and transparent and have the confidence of all stakeholders, so I am pleased that we got a submission back from NatureScot identifying that new data-sharing protocols are now in place that perhaps were not in place when the petition was originally submitted. It believes that the data provides important oversight and that tagging is being done competently, professionally and in an open way. Police Scotland is also happy with the protocols that are in place. On that basis, I suggest that we close the petition.

We want to keep an eye on how satellite tagging is progressing in Scotland, so we might want to raise that question with NatureScot when the opportunity next arises.

The Convener

I agree with that. As no other members want to contribute, and based on what Mark Ruskell said and the very helpful replies that we have received, I think that we can conclude that the petition can be closed but also agree that, in future, we will invite stakeholders to the committee to monitor the subject matter that is covered by the petition.

Protected Beavers (Translocation) (PE1815)

The Convener

The next petition for consideration is PE1815, which was lodged by Steve Micklewright, on behalf of Trees for Life, in August 2020. It calls on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to initiate a programme to translocate protected beavers to suitable habitats outside the existing beaver range in order to minimise the need to kill animals that are adversely impacting arable farmland.

We last considered the petition on 15 March 2022, when we decided to write to NatureScot and the Scottish Government to seek further information and clarification about licensing and relocation. We also agreed to write to the Rural Affairs, Islands and Natural Environment Committee to draw the petition to its attention in the context of any future work on new rural support schemes.

I invite views from members on how to deal with the petition and ask them to note paragraph 24 of the meeting papers.

Mark Ruskell

The petition was very timely. We have seen some progress from the Government in relation to translocations; the first licensed translocations have taken place, which is very welcome. However, there will be on-going issues with the national beaver strategy that need some scrutiny. I suggest that we close the petition but also that we keep one eye on the national beaver strategy. If there is an opportunity to scrutinise that when it is launched, it would be very useful for us to do so, because it will bring up a lot of questions about the management of beavers, including translocations. I think that that is the best way to proceed with the issues that the petition raised.

The Convener

As no other member wishes to come in on that, I will say that I agree with Mark Ruskell. It is important to note that the Scottish Government has changed its position on translocation and that NatureScot has stated that it now expects to see a much greater proportion of the animals that need to be removed being trapped and translocated, and a much smaller proportion being removed by lethal control. On that basis, we will close the petition and look to hear from stakeholders on the national beaver strategy at a later date.

Island Ferry Services (PE1872)

The Convener

The final petition for consideration is PE1872, on ferry services, which was lodged by Liz Mcnicol in May 2021 and calls on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to urgently ensure that all islanders have access to reliable ferry services. We last considered the petition on 15 March 2022 and agreed to postpone consideration to a later date because we anticipated that we would start a ferry-related inquiry that would deal with the issues that are raised in the petition. We have now started a ferries inquiry that will cover the issues that are raised in the petition and, based on that, I suggest that we close the petition. Is that agreed?

Members indicated agreement.

That concludes the public part of the meeting. We will now go into private session.

11:07 Meeting continued in private until 12:34.