SLE statement on Programme for Government 2020/21

Press Release

Commenting on today’s Programme for Government, Sarah-Jane Laing, chief executive of Scottish Land & Estates (SLE) said:

“We welcome the new Programme for Government 2020/21, announced today, which puts a renewed focus on the role we can all play in tackling the climate crisis head on and supporting Scotland’s fragile rural communities as we recover from the Covid pandemic. 

“Scotland’s land managers, farmers and rural businesses are ready to play their part in the fight against climate change and we welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to publishing a new Land Use Strategy. We believe it will help deliver a coherent approach to getting the most out of Scotland’s land, allowing investment to be more suitable and targeted towards Scotland’s different regions. 

“As Scotland begins the recovery phase of the Covid pandemic, the focus is rightly on doing so in a manner which helps us achieve our ambitious climate change targets. Scotland’s land-based businesses are well-placed to kick-start this green recovery, and so we welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to creating a Green Jobs Fund which will not only help us achieve these aims but also create vital employment in rural Scotland.  

“The Scottish Government’s proposals to develop the Woodland Carbon Code, alongside the proposal to establish a statutory Nitrogen Balance Sheet, echoes calls made by SLE over the past two years which will go a long way towards helping Scotland understand it’s impact on the environment and to take innovative steps to support the fight against climate change.

“In our #Route2050 paper we called for the roll-out of a new agriculture producer organisation which would help rebalance supply chains and increase industry co-operation, and we are delighted to see the Scottish Government take this on board with a commitment to creating a new agriculture producer organisation with the aim of strengthening the position of farmers and food producers in the supply chain. 

“As businesses in Scotland’s tourism and leisure sector begin the slow recovery from the Covid pandemic, implementing a new ‘Tourist Tax’ would be an unnecessary and, in many cases, unviable burden and so we are pleased the Scottish Government has taken the decision to delay implementation of the Transient Visitor Levy.

“We are also pleased to see the Scottish Government committing to improving mobile coverage across Scotland. This is a problem which not only affects the quality of life in rural Scotland but which also stifles development, holds new businesses back and poses a danger to those working in high-risk, remote roles, and so we welcome the ongoing commitment to addressing Scotland’s so-called ‘notspots’ which suffer from a complete lack of mobile coverage.”