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Scottish Countryside Alliance welcomes a ‘rural renaissance’ but will it happen?




The Scottish Countryside Alliance welcomes Richard Lochhead MSP’s address at the Scottish Nationalist Party’s autumn conference and his announcement that rural development is a Scottish priority, however we wonder what substance lies beneath his words for Scotland’s rural and wider country sports sector.

The rhetoric throughout Scottish Ministers’ keynote speeches at the Scottish Nationalist Party’s conference centred on independence. All too often the answer for poor sector investment or economic growth is laid at the door of Westminster; but what about the SNP’s investment in Scotland’s rural communities? 

The cabinet secretary stated that many aspects of devolution had worked for Scotland and that the opportunities Scotland is currently missing out on are areas to be explored under a flag of independence. Fishing, farming, fuel, transport and communications were all areas of significant opportunity, he said.

Jamie Stewart, Countryside Alliance director for Scotland commented: “The cabinet secretary Richard Lochhead MSP sold a tale of ‘rural renaissance’, but with the power to invest in broadband and telecommunication, fuel, energy and postal services all reserved by Westminster. I don’t hold out much hope…

“So far we have seen cuts to Scotland’s allocated payments from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the knock-on effect this will have on the delivery of Scotland’s Rural Development Programme (RSDP 2014-2020) combined with threats of further land reform and political intervention in aspects of sporting management such as Rob Gibson MSP’s most recent attack on deer management. I can only wonder I what shape Scotland’s traditional sporting and wider country tourism sector will take in the future.”

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