Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson lambasted a report from the right wing think tank which states that the Highlands are not (and never have been) a good place for business and that the reason that people live there are for other reasons.
The report, which was commissioned by policy exchange - which is closely associated with the Conservative party, said;
"The difficulty of connecting the middle of the Lake District, or the Highlands of Scotland, explains why so few people live there: these places, which are outstandingly beautiful, are not good locations for business and never have been. Those who choose to live there do so because they offer other attractions."
in response, Mr Gibson said….
"Writing off the Highlands of Scotland is as incredible as it is stupid. It seems that this policy think tank is stuck in the 19th Century where the Highlands were only a place for hunting, shooting and fishing. It bears no resemblance to the dynamic area it actually is."
"The future for population and business growth in the Highlands is extremely positive. The boom in renewable energy will see more businesses being set up and more people moving to areas such as Caithness, Ross-shire and the Northern Isles. The commercial shipping hub on Orkney and possible link up with Scrabster harbour will see on one of the major shipping ports in the world. Not to mention the continued growth and reputation that the University of the Highlands and Islands will create in jobs and business which will succeed."
"In 19th Century the central belt drew Highlanders in droves. In the 21st Century the power is returning to the Highlands and Islands."
"There are of course many more businesses that prove that ruralility is no issue when it comes to making a success of business."
He challenged the Tories in Scotland to distance themselves from these idiotic comments….
"Do Highland Tories agree with Mary Scanlon (who lodged a motion congratulating the economic regeneration on Unst) or the outdated policy exchange?."
NOTE TO EDITOR:
Quote on page 25 of Policyexchange's report: referring to Highlands as well as link to report:
That some areas are innately hard to connect is not contentious. The difficulty of connecting the middle of the Lake District, or the Highlands of Scotland explains why so few people live there: these places, which are outstandingly beautiful, are not good locations for business and never have been. Those who choose to live there do so because they offer other attractions.