Land-based businesses continuing their valuable contribution despite political uncertainty

Press Release

Land-based businesses are committed to playing their part in a thriving rural economy despite the ongoing political turbulence.

David Johnstone, chairman of Scottish Land & Estates, made the comment at the organisation’s Annual General Meeting at Perth Racecourse today.

Following his election as chairman for another 12 months, Mr Johnstone said it was vital that SLE members continued to create jobs and prosperity which are vital to countryside communities.

David Johnstone said: “There is little doubt that the continuing political uncertainty has been a challenge but it has not prevented land-based businesses from contributing to Scotland rural economy.

“We have provided thousands of direct jobs in a range of industries, supported indirect employment in supply chain trades and professions, and accordingly helped to maintain demand for the public services that communities need to remain viable. Not only that, we have maintained and enhanced the environment that is central to Scotland’s visitor economy and added to our natural capital for future generations.

“The test for us is to grow that activity even further. Brexit presents both opportunities and challenges, not least in terms of our future trade relationship with Europe. Yet, our rural businesses are a resilient force for good – and we will continue to make the case with decision-makers for a policy and legal framework that allows business to keep providing these priceless benefits.”

Mark Tennant has been appointed to the Board in the position of Vice Chair (Policy), joining the Chairman, Vice Chair (Operations) Dee Ward, and Executive Director Sarah-Jane Laing on the Senior Management Team. Evelyn Channing, Director at Savills, has also joined the SLE board.

Sarah-Jane Laing, Executive Director, said: “Our vision is to have the true contribution of rural land-based businesses recognised and valued both publicly and politically. In order to achieve that, we need to have SLE working at its best operationally.

“We have grown our staff team considerably over the past year and this has led to a better service for our members and also a substantial increase in the engagement we can enjoy with government and stakeholders. There are more and more demands being placed on land-based businesses - social, economic and environmental - and it is vital that we provide the best advocacy possible on their behalf to represent their collective voice.”

The Scottish Land & Estates Annual Conference - Maximising the Margins – will be held in Edinburgh on Wednesday 15 May. To attend, book your place here