Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has expressed disappointment that the management schemes to control the population of geese from damaging croft lands are being discontinued with no firm sustainable plans to tackle the problem for the future.
Councillor Donald Crichton, Chairman of the Crofting Joint Consultative Committee said a continuing increase in the population of geese was a real threat to the future of crofting and expressed disappointment at the response from the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham, to an earlier letter that raised the concerns of his committee.
Councillor Crichton said: "The Minister's response is disappointing and gives no firm plans to tackle this problem in a consistent and sustainable way to build on the work of the pilot schemes that had a positive impact on controlling the goose population.
"We need an increase of funding to help the goose management pilot areas transition to long term sustainable management arrangements. It is unfortunate that the £10,000 challenge funding identified by SNH cannot be increased. This will not go far to assist local groups from as far as Orkney to Tiree to set up self-financing schemes.”
Councillor Crichton continued: " I welcome Ms Cunningham's announcement that the EU commission has indicated that it intends to authorise the licensed sale of wild goose carcasses until March 2019.
"However, the deadline would not give the confidence for businesses to plan and invest to develop the marketing and sale of the produce. There was also no indication that the licence included off island sales which was crucial if this venture was to prosper. There needs to be a permanent licence beyond 2019 to make this worthwhile for investment and for the potential of funding independent management schemes."
Mr Crichton concluded: "We will be taking up the Minister's invitation to meet and will continue to raise these issues with her. I also welcome the support of the Scottish Parliament's Cross Party Group on Crofting on this issue and their intention to raise their concerns with the Minister as well."