The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is expected to ditch using a stately home near Edinburgh in the wake of fierce controversy over its links with the illegal killing of birds of prey.
For the last three years RSPB Scotland has staged the Scottish Birdfair at Hopetoun House, on the Firth of Forth west of South Queensferry. It is an ancestral home that has been occupied by Lord Hopetoun and his family for more than three centuries.
But Lord Hopetoun owns the 11,000-acre Leadhills grouse-shooting estate in South Lanarkshire, which has one of Scotland’s worst records for wildlife crime. Over 40 incidents have been reported there since 2003, including convictions for laying poisoned bait and shooting an owl.
RSPB’s use of Hopetoun House prompted a series of angry attacks from bird-lovers, some of who boycotted the Birdfair. The RSPB, however, defended Lord Hopetoun by pointing out that he did not condone illegal practices on his land and that there was a “clear separation” between Hopetoun House and Leadhills.
But now an activist website, Raptor Persecution Scotland, has reported that the RSPB is dropping Hopetoun House as the venue for next year’s Birdfair. Sources have also told the Sunday Herald that this is the case, pointing out that a three-year contract with Hopetoun has ended.