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Ben Goldsmith slapped down by Scots Minister for 'overgrazing' comments

Prominent financier and outspoken environmentalist Ben Goldsmith became embroiled in a Twitter storm with Scotland’s Rural Economy Minister Fergus Ewing after he accused Scottish farmers of damaging the iconic Highlands by overgrazing livestock. 

Mr Goldsmith, who was appointed a non-executive director to the Defra board by former Defra Secretary Michael Gove in March 2018, began the exchange by tweeting: “You have to be wilfully blind not to see that great swathes of Scotland’s Highlands have been overgrazed to nothingness by countless winter fed deer and heavily subsidised sheep.”

 

Mr Ewing immediately countered with: “Fortunately Mr Goldsmith has no role now or in the future with land management in Scotland.”

 

Within minutes Mr Goldsmith responded: “You are on the wrong side of history Fergus. Public meetings organised by the like of Scotland: The Big Picture [a rewilding group] are packed. The era of bare hills grazed lifeless by heavily subsidised (English) sheep and herds of winter fed deer are coming to an end.”

 

 


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Many farmers were puzzled by the reference to English sheep, as all the hill flocks in Scotland are native to the country.

 

 

John Fyall, former chairman of the National Sheep Association in Scotland, tweeted: “Sheep numbers are at an all-time low. Do not fall into Ben’s trap of regurgitating 1980’s statistics and old stories of sheep subsidies.”

 

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