A NEW law aimed at regulating the grouse shooting industry and protecting birds of prey passed its final vote at Holyrood on Thursday afternoon.

The Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill introduces a licensing scheme for land where grouse are shot and passed by 85 votes to 30.

It also includes measures on the use of snares and glue traps, as well as regulation on the use of other traps.

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There will also be restrictions on the practice of muirburn – the controlled burning of heather and other plants – with licences to be required all year.

The bill also contains powers which could give individuals such as Scottish SPCA inspectors the power to investigate some wildlife crime.

Wildlife campaigner Chris Packham (below) described it as a “gamechanger” which showed Scotland was leading the way with “meaningful change”.

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Agriculture minister Jim Fairlie said the legislation would not have been needed if the practice of raptor persecution had been “shut down”.

He said there would be no “victory parade” in the bill’s passing as he recognised the concerns of those who work “legally and responsibly” in moorland pursuits.

He said: “There are those who disagree with the principles of this bill.

“But had the grouse shooting community shut down raptor persecution, had stopped killing our most iconic birds of prey, we would not have had to legislate in this way.

“But, sadly, they didn’t shut it down, so now it’s up to us to make sure that they do.

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“This bill has caused concern for folk who work legally and responsibly in moorland pursuits, and I completely understand that.

“I want to be clear there should be no victory parade here because this Government recognises the economic contribution and their efforts in combating biodiversity laws.”

However, the Scottish Tories' rural affairs spokeswoman Rachael Hamilton (below) claimed the legislation was "conceptually flawed," and hit out at the Scottish Greens over the bill. 

The National:

"This is just a classic example of the Green tail wagging the yellow dog and the antipathy of the Scottish Greens towards people that live in rural areas," she said.

"Country sports are like catnip for the Scottish Greens and we should be in no doubt that the disproportionality in the scheme is their doing, with SNP ministers too weak to say no - and again rural Scotland suffers the consequences."