Scottish Water has announced that there will be no new grouse shooting leases created across its land. The decision follows the recent announcement by United Utilities that it will not be renewing grouse shooting leases on its vast water catchments across north west England.

The water company will also review its last grouse shooting lease, which covers 6,900 acres of moorland at Backwater Reservoir in the Angus Glens, ahead of its expiry in 2027, to decide on the best approach going forward for biodiversity and sustainability.

Brian Lironi, Director of Corporate Affairs at Scottish Water, said in a statement: “We depend on a thriving environment and are committed to enhancing biodiversity across our land holdings and asset base.

“Scottish Water has only one area on which there is an operational grouse shooting lease in place. This lease is set to expire in 2027 and we will review our future options on land use priorities at that point. We will do that with particular regard to biodiversity and sustainability, taking into account our position on muirburn and herbivore management requirements. This will be subject to a formal decision-making process to be undertaken in due course; however, it is likely these considerations will lead to changes in the terms of any lease offered in future.

“In the meantime, there will be no new grouse shooting leases created elsewhere across our catchment estate.”

Conservation organisations have hailed Scottish Water’s move as a pivotal step towards the restoration of extensive moorlands and the recovery of nature. The company has already set out an ambitious programme to regenerate peatland by rewetting it throughout its water catchments. The signalled move away from grouse shooting aligns with this effort, aiming to stabilise sensitive moorland habitats, combat climate change, provide a home for wildlife, and enhance the quality of water sourced from the uplands.

Luke Steele, Executive Director of Wild Moors, said: “There is only one way to maintain moorland for grouse shooting and that’s by intensively managing peatlands to cultivate heather for grouse to eat and killing off competing wildlife at the expense of the climate and biodiversity.

“By signalling an end to grouse shooting on its land, Scottish Water has made the right move for nature, climate and people. We now urge other landowners to follow on.”