Scottish Land & Estates has welcomed the call for partnership and economic development in rural communities contained within the ‘Our Borderlands - Our Future’ report released this week - but said that recognition must be given to the good work already underway in the region.
Published by the Scottish Affairs Committee, the report suggests that a new enterprise body could be formed specifically for South of Scotland region, akin to Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
Sarah-Jane Laing, Director of Policy and Parliamentary Affairs at Scottish Land & Estates, said: “The Borderlands report is a welcome acknowledgment that we can and should strive to build partnerships that can provide benefits for all who live and work in rural areas across Scotland.
“The issues highlighted by the Scottish Affairs Committee report are ones we have long argued affect many regions of rural Scotland and are not just confined to the Highlands and Islands.
“The report suggests investigating the creation of a body similar to Highlands and Islands Enterprise and whilst closer scrutiny of such a proposal would be needed, we would support any initiative that would help businesses in the South of Scotland to flourish. However, it should be made clear that there is already much productive work underway in the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway. Scottish Enterprise’s efforts in the region should be recognised as well as the benefits delivered by bodies such as the Southern Uplands Partnership, the Dumfries & Galloway Small Communities Housing Trust and many others. We outlined some positive examples of partnership working in the South of Scotland within our response to the Land Reform Review Group as we firmly believe that the area has a wealth of good practice that other rural areas could replicate. However, we also recognise that there is room for improvement, and the potential for the south of Scotland to access greater support.
“Many Scottish Land & Estates members are firmly rooted in the Borders and are already involved in a wide range of positive initiatives, and are keen to see this activity increase. This effort can deliver tangible benefits such as jobs and skills training needed for the rural economy as well as access to facilities that can allow existing businesses to grow, such as the letting of land and the creation of more commercial units in the area. All of us who live and work in the south of Scotland have a part to play in its success and private landowners have already demonstrated that they are able to make a significant contribution and are keen to do even more.”
“Both myself and our chairman, David Johnstone, are from the Borderlands so can identify with the issues outlined by the committee in its report. We are proud advocates of the good work already being undertaken in the area as well as being vocal in our desire to see further improvements. We would encourage everyone in the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway to feed into the committee’s work.”