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Shooting Rights and Deer Forests – Rates (FWN 29)

25 September 2017

In recent weeks (September 2017) local Councils around Scotland have been sending out Valuation Notices to landowners and occupiers.

These are “notices” of rateable values (RV) for Shooting Rights and Deer Forests which may be subject to non-domestic rates.

Shooting Rights and Deer Forests have been exempt from revaluations and non-domestic rates since 1995.  This exemption was removed as part of the Land Reform Act 2016 resulting in the re-entry of Shooting Rights and Deer Forests in local valuation rolls from 1st April 2017.

Shooting rights, in rating terms, are defined as the right to occupy the land for the purpose of shooting game.  Game normally refers to wild birds and animals such as deer, pheasants, partridges, black or red grouse, ptarmigan, wildfowl, snipe, woodcock and hare.  The right to shoot game relates to whether there is a potential to exercise the right to shoot.  In most cases, this right is granted through ownership of the land or by the owner granting lease, licence or permission to shoot to another party.  This can mean that shooting rights have a RV in all instances whether shooting occurs for vermin control for agricultural purposes or for sport and even if no shooting occurs.

A shooting rights form was sent to each occupier of agricultural land in November/December 2016.  This form asked for details of the area of the land and the land types, as well as the types of species and numbers, shot. Rental information and financial information related to shooting was also asked for and this enabled an analysis of those rents.  As not everyone returned a form, information was also taken from the Single Application Form (SAF) 2015 supplied by the Scottish Government Rural Inspections Directorate (SGRPID).

Following the data gathering exercise above, the Valuation Notices are being sent to the person/s considered to hold the shooting rights.  The RV stated on the Valuation Notice has been calculated using the area over which shootings may be exercised and multiplied using the following rates for the different land types.  Some adjustments may also have been applied.

Land Type £/ha

  • Arable £4.00
  • Unimproved grassland £4.00
  • Improved grassland £3.50
  • Deer Forest/Hill/Moor £2.00
  • Woodlands/Forestry £5.00
  • Mixed Types £5.00

The RV is not the amount that will be required to be paid.  The rates bill will be issued in the next few weeks/months and will be calculated by multiplying the RV by the rate in the pound.  Where the RV is less than £51,001, the multiplier is 46.6p.  If above £51,001, the multiplier is 49.2p. However, where eligible, the RV can be subject to relief.

Business rates relief is available by application through the Small Business Bonus Scheme (SBBS). Relief is based on the combined RV of all business premises, the following reliefs are available:

  • RV up to £15,000 – 100% relief (ie no rates payable)
  • RV £15,001 to £18,000 – 25% relief
  • If you have more than one business property, with a combined RV of between £18,001 and £35,000, you will get 25% relief on each individual property with a RV of under £18,000.

As and when rates bills become available and in order to obtain relief, landowners and occupiers will need to apply for SBBS through local councils by completing a simple one-page application form.  The form may vary slightly between different authorities but will ask for a property reference, address, ratepayer name and RV of the business property.  It may also ask for details of other commercial (non-domestic) properties in Scotland and information on de minimus state aid that has been granted over a 3 year period.  The form is available as a paper copy or in an online format.

In some cases, the person being sent the Valuation Notice will disagree with the RV or they may not believe that they are liable for the RV as they do not hold the shooting rights, e.g. a tenant farmer farms land where the shooting rights are held entirely by the landlord and/or another party.  If a farmer/land occupier disagrees with a Valuation Notice or believes that they do not have shooting rights on the land occupied, an appeal of the entry in the Valuation Roll can be lodged within 6 months from the date of the notice. Evidence, e.g. tenancy agreements, would be required to support any appeals.

It is thought that most farm businesses (where there are no additional non-domestic businesses/diversifications operating) will be subject to full relief on Shooting Rights and Deer Forest rates.  Each case should be assessed for its own circumstances.

More information can be found at the websites below and for more specific cases advice should be sought by the Assessor in the relevant local council.

Scottish Assessors Association –Re-entry of shooting rights to the valuation roll

Scottish Assessors Association –Valuation of Shooting Rights and Deer Forests

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