Grouse shooting and deer stalking will stop at many of Scotland’s sporting estates after the country’s new First Minister scrapped a key tax break, land management experts warned last night.
CKD Galbraith, Scotland’s leading rural consultancy, predicted the owners of some estates and large farms would stop providing sporting activities after Nicola Sturgeon scrapped an exemption from business rates worth millions of pounds.
Tim Kirkwood, the firm’s chief executive, said many rely on the generosity of well-heeled benefactors based in London or abroad, and they may not be willing to find the extra money to fund a “significant burden”.
Richard Stirling-Aird, a trustee for the Kippendavie estate near Dunblane, said the tax break was worth £10,000 to a large estate when it was introduced 20 years ago and predicted scrapping it would lead to job losses as many are run at a loss.
Both men agreed the change could backfire as assessing hundreds of estates and farms for business rates on their sporting income only could cost more than the revenue generated. Council assessors will have to decide the properties’ rental value based on their activities or acreage.
Of course, the reason the SNP are doing it is to hit out at the Lairds. But even so, there’s no good theoretical reason for sporting estates not to pay the same taxes that every other rural business does. You’re using the land for a business: pay business taxes.
Of course, my logic also says that farms should be paying business rates. But then they should, too.