Rural stakeholders will present Scotland’s main political parties with key questions on how they will prioritise and take forward rural policies after May’s Scottish Parliamentary Elections at a national hustings event later this week.
Seventeen years on from the advent of devolution, this is the first time an event of this scale has been held in a Scottish election campaign with the sole focus being on issues of direct relevance to rural Scotland.
The event, supported by 17 rural stakeholders, will feature (in alphabetical order) Sarah Boyack (Scottish Labour); Peter Chapman (Scottish Conservatives); Richard Lochhead (SNP); Willie Rennie (Scottish Liberal Democrats) and Mark Ruskell (Scottish Greens). The event will be chaired by Ken Rundle.
The 17 host organisations have assembled the following asks for the Scottish parties to take forward over the lifetime of the new parliament:
- Better connectivity by making investment and improvements to transport, digital and communications to provide both business competitiveness and social benefits
- Sharing the success of Scotland’s good food story throughout the supply chain, right down to the primary producer
- Improve opportunities to further education and skills training in agricultural and land-based industries, including forestry and country sports, to retain rural communities and attract young people and new generations to rural Scotland
- Ensuring a robust Common Agricultural Policy post-2020 which delivers for rural Scotland which can be aligned with our Land Use Strategy objectives
- Measures to encourage the provision of new, affordable rural housing, and support put in place to sufficient support existing rural housing providers.
- Support and relevant promotion of Scotland’s rural tourism in order to support Scotland’s wider rural economy.
- Measures to help Scotland’s nature thrive, not just on the two per cent of land that is a nature reserve, but on the more than 70 per cent of Scotland that is privately managed.
The full list of 'key asks' can be found in the document below.
Ken Rundle, independent chairman of Thursday’s debate said: “The last Parliament addressed issues with a direct impact on rural communities and businesses and of fundamental interest to everyone with concerns about the future of Scotland’s countryside. Whether it be land reform, land tenure, a radically different Common Agricultural Policy, food security, food safety or climate change, the range of issues is enormous and I am sure there will be no shortage of questions or opinions for our politicians to respond to. It will be a busy but fascinating night.”
The Hustings will take place in the MacRobert Pavilion, Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston, near Edinburgh EH28 8NB on Thursday 7 April at 7pm. Tickets can be booked, free of charge, via Eventbrite.
This event has been organised and is supported the following rural industry groups: NFU Scotland; Scottish Land & Estates; Rural Housing Scotland; Scottish Tenant Farmers Association; Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group; Scottish Crofting Federation; Association of Deer Management Groups; Scottish Beef Association; Scottish Gamekeepers Association; Scottish Association of Young Farmers; Scottish Countryside Alliance; Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust; Scottish Association for Country Sports; British Association for Shooting and Conservation; Scottish Agricultural Organisation Association; Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland; and Forest Policy Group.