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Centre for Rural Development Launched - 'To Help Build Stronger Communities'





Some of the Centre for Rural Development members*.  L to R: Professor Bill McKelvey, Douglas McAdam, John Ferguson, Sarah-Jane Laing, Graeme Blackett, Jamie Williamson, Andrew Midgley.  Front: Luke Borwick and Bruce Beveridge.

 Missing from the photo are: David Fyffe, Priscilla Gordon-Duff and Allan Bowie.

A new Centre for Rural Development,  which will address key challenges across rural Scotland, was launched today (Friday 31 August) in Edinburgh.

The Centre for Rural Development will draw on expertise from a wide range of sectors as it develops practical and deliverable initiatives for the benefit of rural communities.

The Centre is being chaired by Bruce Beveridge, a distinguished former Scottish Government adviser on rural affairs and Vice President of the Law Society.

The inaugural meeting of the core members of the Centre, who include leading economists, representatives from the agri-foods industry, NFU Scotland, the voluntary sector and rural business owners, was held in Edinburgh today.  Experts from other fields will be invited to participate in relevant projects.

Mr Beveridge said: “The Centre is an exciting and very worthwhile addition to the individuals and organisations which are already trying to ensure that rural Scotland has a vibrant future for all who live, work and enjoy leisure time there. 

“Collaborative thinking and positive solutions can address some of the challenges faced in our rural sector and I am confident the Centre for Rural Development will serve as an ideal vehicle for that approach. We will focus on things to do, rather than telling others what needs to be done ”

The Centre for Rural Development was instigated by Scottish Land & Estates who will provide policy support and a secretariat as well as participating members.

Luke Borwick, Chairman of Scottish Land & Estates, said: “The idea to create a Centre for Rural Development in which people can work together for the benefit of rural Scotland has found support from many organisations including the Scottish Government.

“The Centre will take a collaborative approach to some of the key challenges faced by rural communities and the rural economy of Scotland.  Crucially, it will then put forward solutions that are practical and deliverable.”

At today’s meeting it was agreed that the Centre would focus on the issue of  maximising local benefits from renewable energy, among its initial projects.

Mr Beveridge said:”There are many good examples of renewable energy delivering important benefits to Scotland's rural communities. We think there is a significant opportunity to build on these examples of good practice to create ways of delivering a broader range of sustainable local benefits.”

The core members of the Centre for Rural Development are: -

Bruce Beveridge – Former top Scottish Government adviser on rural affairs and Vice President of the Law Society.

Bill McKelvey  - Vice Chairman at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, he is a director of the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, a  member of the Scottish Food Advisory Committee and a Non-Executive Director at Glenrath Farms in the Borders. He was formerly the Chief Executive and Principal of the Scottish Agricultural College.

Jamie Williamson  -  the owner of Alvie & Dalraddy Estates which is run as a family business and includes Alvie Farm Partnership, Alvie Estate with its sporting and forestry operations and Dalraddy Holiday Park.  Jamie is also President of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society.

Graeme Blackett  - Director of BiGGAR Economics Limited and a Trustee of Reform Scotland. BiGGAR Economics is a leading economic consultancy based in Roslin, working for governments, local authorities, public sector agencies, universities and companies throughout the UK and Ireland.

John Ferguson – Director of Development for the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, he leads the Development and Rural Affairs teams and his work includes the rural dimension of Scotland's voluntary sector.

Allan Bowie - Vice President of the NFU Scotland. Allan farms in partnership with his brother in the North East Fife and Kinross area.

David Fyffe  - owner and manager of  Fetternear Estate in Aberdeenshire and is a director of Scottish Land & Estates.

Priscilla Gordon-Duff - Managing Director at Drummuir Estate. The estate is involved in agriculture, forestry, property, commercial leases, fishing and community engagement.

Douglas McAdam -  CEO of Scottish Land & Estates since 2006, when he joined following a career in the commercial sector overseas and in the UK, latterly with Thames Water. As well as undertaking the role of CEO and Board member, he represents Scottish Land & Estates on a number of external governmental and industry groups and Boards.

Sarah-Jane Laing – Head of Policy at Scottish Land & Estates. Sarah-Jane joined the organisation in 2004 as Housing Strategy Officer. She became Head of Policy in 2009 and her current role involves overseeing the policy team and leading on representational work. She is a Board member of the Rural Housing Service.


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