Rob Gibson SNP MSP for Highlands and Islands has welcomed the conclusions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh into the crisis in hills and Islands Agriculture.
Some of the key findings are that Scotland needs to:
● recognise that the continuing decline in hill and island agriculture has implications for biodiversity, landscape management and food security
● develop a Strategic Land Use Policy Framework to provide a more integrated and coordinated basis for decision-making
● substantial shifts in decision-making and delivery of public resources from centrally-based agencies to regionally-based structures
● recognise the importance of tourism and stimulating economic growth and radically reform the support structures for tourism
● halt the closure of rural post offices until a new, wider rationale is developed
● recognise that combating climate change now needs to be a major factor and that the EU should be urged to give credit to forestry investment in meeting emissions targets.
Commenting on the report entitled 'Committee of enquiry into the future of Scotland's hills and islands' he said,
"Many of the Society's recommendations underline the need for more powers over land use policy in Scotland. Investment as well as more hands-on local planning are both required. But undoubtedly the maintenance of crofts and family farms growing mixed crops and livestock are a key component. Clearly the small size of such farms retains more people. Also the Cap's Single Farm Payment scheme has paid producers who have failed to continue to produce. It must be reformed to support the needs of least favoured areas and small producers."
"Meanwhile the UK has powers to save post offices, arrange a favourable connection regime for renewable energy and taper fuel prices would all be required. These have not been applied, therefore the Royal Society report is only part of the solution. Independence and a much more devolved decision taking structure within Scotland will be the real saviour of our rural and island economy."
Note to editor:
Link to report