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Sporting rights row reaches Holyrood

The Scottish Government is to investigate whether it could buy back the sporting rights on the island of Raasay and restore them to the community.

But the firm which bought them may not be interested in a sale.

The Raasay Crofters Association held the rights since 1995, and put a lot of work into developing deer management on the island.

When its lease came to an end last year the rights were put out to tender, but the crofters were told by the Scottish Government that ministers were "not obliged to accept the highest offer".

The decision to award a new lease to South Ayrshire Stalking, because they bid about £2000 a year more, was taken by civil servants without ministerial approval.

Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse was said to have been horrified and the issue was discussed in the Cabinet earlier this week.

A spokeswoman for the government said: "As the minister made clear last week, this decision was taken without ministerial involvement and the Scottish Government is now considering all available options which would allow us to restore the community of Raasay's access to sporting rights on the island."

The Herald understands officials are examining how this could best be achieved.

However Chris Dalton, one of the owners of South Ayrshire Stalking, said: "We have put a lot of work into the tender process and just want to crack on now."

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Local government

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