Two sporting estates are taking the government’s wildlife agency, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), to court after it said that birds of prey had been illegally killed or trapped on their land.
Last week SNH named Raeshaw estate, south east of Edinburgh, and Burnfoot estate, west of Stirling, as sites where raptors protected under law such as peregrines, red kites and buzzards had been persecuted.
The Sunday Herald has learnt, however, that the estates are now launching a judicial review of SNH’s move. They deny any wrongdoing, and are challenging whether SNH has acted lawfully within its powers.
The fierce legal battle is the latest twist in the long and bitter war over birds of prey on sporting estates. The birds are known to prey on grouse, which some landowners fear could reduce the numbers available to be shot for sport.