Rural and Environment
Rural Scotland and the Programme for Government
Rural Scotland makes a vital contribution to our national economy.
Our rural and island assets provide natural and business resources for key economic sectors, especially food and drink, but also energy, tourism, creative industries and life science. I am clear that we must work to build on these successes to improve the wellbeing of our rural, coastal and island communities and provide a positive future for them.
Having declared a global climate emergency, achieving our climate ambitions will involve harnessing the power and capital of rural Scotland. This is a challenge, but also an opportunity for us to help people stay on the land, create sustainable, productive communities and businesses – and I am clear that our rural population are key allies in tackling climate change.
With more young people wanting to stay in rural communities it is vital that we stop the depopulation of rural areas. We will therefore develop an action plan to support repopulation, further develop our rural skills programme, and make sure that the planning system and housing support work for rural communities. We will introduce the first ever National Islands Plan, setting out how we and other public bodies will improve outcomes for islanders.
Between 2015-18, over £119 million has been invested in nearly 1,500 community-based or micro-enterprise projects in rural Scotland. Looking forward, the Scottish National Investment Bank and the new Green Deal will begin investing in rural Scotland to secure the transition to net zero by 2045.
We are rightly proud of our food production and food and drink industries, which are vital to the national economy, supporting jobs, investment and local communities. We will continue to support their growth ambitions and will bring forward a Good Food Nation Bill to underpin the significant work already being done across Government to deliver our Good Food Nation aims. We will also create a Food and Drink Academy to support further growth of this successful sector.
EU citizens are making a crucial contribution to rural communities, businesses and public services. We value them and want them to stay in Scotland. That is why we have launched our Stay in Scotland campaign and why we will continue to argue for a migration policy tailored to Scotland’s needs.
I believe that leaving the EU with no deal is likely to have a significant adverse impact on all of Scotland’s rural economy, particularly the farming and food production sectors. That is why, we have launched a National Basic Payment Support Scheme offering loans of up to 95% to eligible claimants, that will inject €395 million into the rural economy, ensuring farmers and crofters have it in their accounts prior to any Brexit
We continue to do all we can to mitigate against the impacts of Brexit, but try as we might, we can’t mitigate against every impact, so individual farmers, crofters, land managers, individuals and businesses should be looking seriously at what they can do now, if they are not already.
We will continue to invest in rural Scotland economy and communities. From regenerating our harbours, improving transport and digital infrastructure, promoting tourism and culture, protecting our natural resources and planting a further 12,000 hectares of forest, we are determined to do all we can to enable them to succeed.
This Programme for Government shows the ambition we have for rural Scotland. It sets out the progressive actions we will take to make rural Scotland the best place to grow up, learn, work and live in.