Red grouse and licensing

All land used to kill or take red grouse must be licenced

The licence for land used to kill or take red grouse was introduced in the Wildlife Management & Muirburn (Scotland) Act 2024.

Who can apply

The land on which red grouse may be killed or taken must be licenced. This applies to both walked-up and driven grouse shooting.

The licence holder must be the owner or occupier of the land. An occupier is someone who has shooting rights on the land. For example, a sporting tenant.

It is illegal to shoot or take red grouse from an area without a licence.

Applying for a licence: step-by-step

An application form is currently in development and will be launched soon. We have provided some guidance on what to expect.

Step 1: Before you start

The application for a licence for land which may be used to kill or take red grouse will be a simple online process. The first page will set out everything you need to complete the application:

  • grid reference within the landholding
  • map showing the landholding boundary and area over which you have the right to kill or take red grouse
  • Code of Practice which you must agree to comply with

Step 2: Licence holder details

You will be asked to provide some details about the licence holder:

  • full name or organisation name
  • contact details including email address
  • postal address (for correspondence)

The licence holder must be the owner and/or occupier of the land. An occupier is someone who has the right to kill or take red grouse over the land.

The licence holder can be an individual or an organisation (a trust, a business or a partnership).

You can apply on behalf of someone else with their permission.

Step 3: Understanding when a licence may be suspended or revoked

You will be asked to confirm you understand the circumstances when a licence may be suspended or revoked. This page will include a list of the relevant offences as set out in the Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) 2024 Act which could lead to a licence being revoked or suspended. This is a simple tick box.

Step 4: Landholding details

You must provide:

  • Landholding name – for example: the farm or estate name
  • Grid reference – this should be for a point within the landholding and should be between 6 and 12 digits long. For example: NS123456.
  • If you have WES Level 2 accreditation – this is not part of the licence assessment but may be considered for compliance monitoring.
  • A map which shows the landholding boundary and areas over which you have the right to kill or take grouse – this will be the area to which the licence relates and the area over which red grouse may be killed or taken. We advise you use Ordnance Survey mapping (for example OS 1:25,000 or 1:50,000) and apply a scale bar to the map. The file must be smaller than 10MB. Suggested file types include PDF, JPEG and PNG. View example map.

 

Step 5: Check for errors and confirm the declaration

This is the final stage of the application. You will be shown an overview of the information you have provided. In case of errors, you can change the information before submitting your application. Once you are happy with the information you have provided, you will be asked to confirm:

  • the details are correct
  • that you will comply with the Code of Practice and licence conditions
  • that you agree with the privacy policy of the service

Step 6: What happens once I have submitted my application?

If you are the licence holder, you will receive an email which includes a link to download your licence.

If you have applied on behalf of the licence holder:

  • you will receive an email confirming the application has been submitted to the licence holder for approval
  • the licence holder will receive an email with a link for them to approve the application 
  • after the licence holder approves the application, both you and the licence holder will receive an email which includes a link to download your licence

Suspending or revoking a licence

Licences can be taken away in certain circumstances. This may happen if the licence holder – or a person involved in managing the land – commits a relevant offence on the land.

Code of Practice on Grouse Moor Management

The Code of Practice sets out what you must do to ensure that your grouse moor management complies with all the relevant regulations. The Code also provides links to moorland management best practice guidance. It will be a condition of the licence that you comply with the Code.

Read the Code of Practice.

Last updated: