Rural businesses call for bold and ambitious leadership

Press Release

Scotland’s rural sector must grasp this opportunity to make the changes required to help deliver a resilient, efficient and thriving rural sector and to tackle the climate emergency head on says Scottish Land & Estates (SLE), the organisation which represents landowners and rural businesses.

Following an evidence session with the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee today (18 December 2019), SLE says that while short-term clarity on rural support is welcome, now is the time for bold and ambitious leadership to guide Scotland towards a future which rewards and invests in farming and wider land management, tailored to Scotland’s needs.

SLE also says that they have concerns the Agriculture (Retained EU Law and Data) (Scotland) Bill has no end date for the temporary powers given to Scottish Ministers. The Scottish agricultural sector desperately wants clarity on a longer-term vision to allow rural businesses to plan for the future, instead of short-term options to paper over the cracks.

Eleanor Kay, Policy Adviser at Scottish Land & Estates who gave evidence today at the committee, said:

“Scotland’s rural sector faces significant change as we move away from the oversight and guidance of the European Commission. Change can be scary, but we need to see this as a fantastic opportunity to help deliver a resilient, efficient and thriving rural sector and to tackle the climate emergency head on.

“The Progress Report published this week by the Committee on Climate Change stresses the need for immediate action. Our approach to how we manage Scotland’s land presents us with an early opportunity to start making these changes.

“As we’ve said in the past, action needs to be taken now to prevent long-lasting negative consequences for the sector.

“We must use this opportunity to identify what we want to achieve from investment in rural Scotland, particularly in our uplands and our less favoured areas. We support the proposed pilot schemes, but we need to see far more detail from the Scottish Government on what they propose to pilot and when these schemes will begin. Timing is critical, and we need to see more urgent progress.”

SLE also calls for more progress to be made on the development of common frameworks which will be absolutely key to ensuring a level playing field and continued smooth trade throughout the UK.