HOW absolutely charmed one is to read that Balmoral has been honoured with an award by Wildlife Estates Scotland (Campaigners hit out after Balmoral wins nature award, News, December 14).

Red deer may be nibbling a few young Caledonian pines, much to the annoyance of environmentalist Drennan Watson, but we must preserve the stalking. Anyway, the grouse have never flown better than this year; a day on the moors is such a privilege. One must keep up appearances - people expect it of us. It may just be a horrid rumour, but I heard that a trouble-making land rights campaigner is suggesting a community buyout for Balmoral. Turn the castle into an old folks' home? Outrageous - how far can this nonsense go?

Iain R Thomson


IN his article on the relationship between the Cairngorms National Park and grouse moors, Rob Edwards ignores all the benefits of what is a very positive collaboration (Hunting estates 'harming wildlife' to boost grouse, News, December 14).

The article makes the incorrect assertion, under a picture of a black grouse, that increasing numbers of grouse come at a significant environmental cost. The reality is that black grouse, a rare and endangered bird which is red-listed and a Biodiversity Action Plan species, is thriving on grouse moors in and around the park precisely because of that management. It is just the same for other increasingly rare birds such as the curlew and the lapwing - in other parts of Scotland where there is no management to protect them, their numbers have crashed by around 50% in the last two decades, yet on grouse moors they continue to thrive. This is well proven by peer-reviewed science, which demonstrates that curlew, lapwing and golden plover breed three times better where foxes, mustelids and crows are controlled. The Cairngorms National Park understands this but it seems that opponents of grouse shooting wilfully ignore it.

Tim Baynes, Director

Scottish Land & Estates' Moorland Group