McArthur welcomes Ministerial visits to Orkney on goose management

Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur, has today (Wednesday) sought an update on preparations for a planned ministerial visit to Orkney to discuss solutions to address the impact of growing numbers of resident greylag geese.

Mr McArthur previously secured a commitment from the Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Roseanna Cunningham, to visit Orkney to see first-hand the damage being done to crops and farmland by resident greylag geese.

During Portfolio Questions, Mr McArthur urged Ms Cunningham to ensure the NFUS Orkney were closely involved in the planning of the visit in early summer. He also asked for a commitment that funding will be made available to continue with measures being trialled to control the resident goose population where these are shown to make a difference.

In response, Ms Cunningham said that her office was exploring dates in early summer for a visit and that the Minister for Rural Affairs, Mairi Gougeon, is also planning a separate visit in April, when she would be happy to engage in discussions around this issue. In terms of funding, Ms Cunningham confirmed that funding is in place to support efforts to reduce the resident goose population in Orkney until Spring 2021.

Following the exchange, Mr McArthur commented:

“The growing number of resident greylag geese continues to pose a challenge for famers and crofters in Orkney. The impact on crops and farmland has been serious and extensive, leading to real frustration and anger within the local farming community.

“Scottish Natural Heritage and the local management group recognise the problem and have been working hard to identify solutions to bring overall numbers down to sustainable levels. This has resulted in some encouraging progress during the trials to date, but further progress is dependent upon ongoing funding being available.

“I welcome the fact that both the Cabinet Secretary and Minister now plan to visit Orkney in the coming months to see first-hand the extent of the damage to farmland and crops. I will continue to work with the team at NFUS Orkney to make sure that both visits are as productive as possible, and underline the case for ongoing funding of goose management measures.”.

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