Valuation of Shooting Rights and Deer Forests in Scotland

1 July 2019

Raymond Henderson of Bidwells and Confor’s Jamie Farquhar are involved in the Sporting Rates Advisers’ Working Group (SRAWG).   An update briefing by kind permission of Scottish Land & Estates.

There has been further work on the required additional forestry allowance with the assessors, and the Scottish Government is looking to change ‘commercial’ to ‘sporting’ in their guidance. As part of the Sporting Rates Advisers’ Working Group (SRAWG), SLE has been working with the Scottish Assessors Association (SAA) to increase the understanding of the valuation of forestry in connection to sporting rights. A new practice and guidance note have been developed and are now in the draft stages.

The SAA intends to send out further requests for information, and we understand that Tayside is holding back on the forestry subjects while they consider the valuation approach.

Control of deer is a significant net cost to the forestry industry. Costs incurred include tubes to protect young trees, deer fencing (level of control required varies per tree species), the requirement to carry out double stem pruning due to deer browsing, and replacement of damaged trees in the first two years after planting. Moreover, it is not always possible to find sporting tenants, as the current trend is towards using paid contractors to cull the deer.

An additional factor that SLE believe should be considered by the SAA when assessing forestry is the requirement to plant to UK Forestry Standards. This requires the planting of a wide range of tree species, some of which are more susceptible to damage from deer, which in turn can reduce the quality of the timber.

The Forestry industry was surprised that the assessors chose to apply the rate/Ha to this land type. Their feeling is that that SAA approach to valuation of woodlands/forestry does not reflect the typical forest life cycle, from young plantation stage where there is a high risk of deer damage and low sporting potential through to the mature woodland stage where the risk is lower and accordingly the sporting potential is higher.

SRAWG presented the SAA with a small sample of rental information for commercial woodlands which suggested a lower rate/Ha, and discussion has taken place around the potential to grant allowances to reflect the age of the forest or adoption of a lower overall rate. The SAA has agreed to consider woodlands/forestry once more and has requested further rental evidence.

We anticipate that forestry appeals will not be cited for determination until at the earliest September to December 2019; more likely Spring 2020. In the meantime, any that are cited (in error) will be delayed until the new forestry allowance scheme is formulated and the Practice Note(s)/Guidance Note(s) updates published.