#ThrivingRuralScotland

Scottish Land & Estates launches manifesto “Our Plan for a Thriving Rural Scotland”

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Press Release

Establishing a new scheme to support the seasonal and permanent non-UK workforce rural Scotland relies on is absolutely essential if we want to ensure our communities are provided with the much-needed stability and support they need to thrive.

Launching their manifesto “Our Plan for a Thriving Rural Scotland” for the 2019 General Election, Scottish Land & Estates (SLE) has called for key issues such as trade and labour and support frameworks to be addressed immediately, and for climate change to be front and centre of all policy in the next Parliament. This will be critical in order to allow rural businesses to continue providing the vital economic, social and environmental benefits that Scotland enjoys.

For any party wishing to form the next UK Government and for any candidate standing for election, the message from SLE is clear: rural Scotland is ready to deliver, but we need the right conditions to allow our businesses and communities to thrive.

The manifesto sets out 5 priority areas which must be addressed as a matter of urgency by the incoming UK Government if we want to ensure businesses and communities throughout rural Scotland remain strong in the face of the uncertainty caused by Brexit.

SLE Chairman David Johnstone commented: “Throughout rural Scotland we see communities who are resilient, flexible and innovative, and we have every confidence that this will continue despite the challenges that lie ahead.

“But the rural sector can’t just plan for the short term. Businesses and communities across rural Scotland need more certainty.

“Scotland’s rural enterprises, in both the agriculture sector and in the leisure and tourism sector, rely heavily on seasonal and permanent workers from outside the UK. Any new scheme must take into account the distinct needs of rural Scotland.

“Scotland, and indeed the rest of the world, finds itself in the midst of a climate emergency. We need to see the next UK Government establish new ways to encourage mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions and sequestration of carbon, which could be accelerated by introducing rewards for land managers who are leading the way.

“And as we continue the fight against climate change, urgent action is needed by the next UK Government to address deficiencies in the current EPC rating methodology. Housing and energy can play a key role in how we tackle climate change, but the current system of energy rating simply does not work.

“Agriculture is the bedrock of rural Scotland, so we want to see the next UK Government commit to maintaining the high production standards both within the UK and for imported products. We want to see a commitment that trade in agri-food goods remains as free as possible with our key markets.

“More certainty and more information on the future direction of travel will allow rural businesses to continue providing the vital benefits that keeps our rural communities thriving.”

The 5 priority areas from the SLE General Election 2019 manifesto are:

1. Climate Change

We urge parties to commit to establishing methodologies which encourage mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions and sequestration of carbon, which in return reward good practice and ensure value is returned to land managers.

2. Agriculture

We urge parties to commit to maintaining high production standards both within the UK and for imported products and to continue to work collaboratively with devolved nations to create transparent agricultural common frameworks.

3. Trade & labour

We urge parties to ensure that trade in agri-food goods has minimal friction with our principal markets and to commit to developing a new scheme for seasonal and permanent non-UK workforce, which is vital to rural sectors.

4. Digital connectivity

We urge parties to produce a detailed plan of where mobile coverage will be extended and how this will be achieved and set out how landowners’ property rights will be respected under the Electronic Communications Code.

5. Taxation

We urge parties to enable investment and innovation through the provision of capital allowances as well as extending research and development relief to Income Tax to assist with innovation and productivity across all business types.

‘Our Plan for a Thriving Rural Scotland’, SLE’s manifesto for the General Election 2019, is published here.