Ongoing CAP support key for Scots

REDUCING red tape and CAP reform are among the common threads running through the list of priorities the new administration in Scotland has been urged to tackle.

Farming and rural leaders have outlined the issues they feel are most important to help secure the future of agriculture and rural areas, with affordable housing and support for local food also featuring high on their list.

Both NFU Scotland and the Scottish Countryside Alliance (SCA) have stressed Scotland’s farming industry needs ongoing CAP support.

Nigel Miller, NFUS president, said the next Scottish Government should also develop an effective relationship with the UK Government to ensure the country’s unique priorities are factored into the CAP debate.

“We need a flexible, transparent CAP system underpinned by a strong budget and which ensures only truly active farmers are the recipients of support.” He said there must also be a more proportionate penalty system and genuine errors should be dealt with fairly.

Small businesses

Luke Borwick, chairman of the Scottish Rural Property and Business Association highlighted the reduction of red tape and regulation for small rural businesses, while Ross Montague, director of the SCA, urged the new administration to listen and engage with rural communities.

“When MSPs listen to, and work with, people on the ground, red tape becomes less burdensome and more workable,” Mr Montague added.

Mr Miller said the new Government must minimise the administrative burdens wherever possible and ensure enforcement of regulations is ‘fair, consistent and balanced’.

Mr Borwick pointed out it was ‘universally acknowledged’ there was a ‘dire’ shortage of affordable rural housing, with Mr Montague adding such housing was ‘urgently required’ in rural Scotland.

Mr Borwick also highlighted the need to attract and retain skilled workers in the countryside and called for continued commitment to encourage

renewable energy projects; support for land managers delivering public goods; a quicker and more effective local planning policy and greater freedom of contract within agricultural holding agreements.

Alternative energy

The SCA called for food and countryside issues to be further incorporated into schools’ national curriculum; urgent action on fuel prices in rural areas and for the development of better alternative energy sources and technologies.

Patrick Krause, chief executive of the Scottish Crofting Federation, called for the next Government to publish an Action Plan to secure the future of crofting within a year of taking office.

“We feel the last two attempts at reforming crofting legislation have been shambolic, mainly because the Government has not had a clear vision of crofting, or indeed of Scottish land use.

“We need long-term strategies designed to secure the future of rural Scotland for generations to come.”

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