Our Responses to the #BigRuralDebate
1. In order to grow economic activity in rural areas, better connectivity is sorely needed. What will this panel take forward in the new parliament to improve transport and digital connectivity to provide both better business competitiveness and social benefits?
Internet speeds in rural areas simply aren’t good enough. In some areas, speeds are reduced due to overloading and high usage. We are committed to properly implemented broadband all across Scotland.
We will speed up the implementation of dual carriageways across Scotland.
Whilst we welcome the increase in rail line capacity, we also note the introduction was badly handled and there is now not enough rolling stock available. We will work with industry partners to ensure future changes are better run.
2. Scottish food and drink products are valued and praised across the world. What are the panel’s views on how we can truly share the success of Scotland’s good food story right down the supply chain to the primary producer?
Smaller, farmer owned cooperatives running abattoirs would benefit animal welfare, meat quality and shorten the supply chain.
Simplify the qualification and evaluation criteria for SFP to meet the specific objectives of Agriculture first and foremost. UKIP believes that ‘greening’ rules have been unnecessarily gold-plated. We will review this with the expectation of relaxing legislation.
Reverse the rapid decline in our fishing industry and return £2.5 billion a year in fish sales to the UK and Scottish economy.
Work with our Fishermen to solve discard and landing issues
3. What will this panel do to improve opportunities for further education and skills training in agricultural, crofting, forestry and land-based industries, including country sports, to prevent out-migration of young people and attract new generations to rural Scotland?
UKIP actively supports a balanced education system, with further education colleges and apprenticeships playing as important a role as universities, providing the skills necessary
To support the rural economy, we are committed to protection the £350m p.a country sports industry.
4. With a new Common Agricultural Policy still bedding in, we are starting to look ahead to further reform in 2020. What are the priorities of the panel in this negotiation for how CAP will look post-2020 and how should we align this with our Land Use Strategy objectives?
Once out of the EU, and free of CAP, UKIP will introduce a modified Single Farm Payment that gives farmers the power to farm the land free of bureaucracy.
We would introduce an outcomes-based SFP whereby framers ae supported by government, rather than threatened with sanctions.
We will seek to abolish the SNP’s Land Reform Act and replace it with a new act based on historic freedoms and individual liberties. Land reform done correctly can ensure regeneration and protection of the unique Scottish countryside. We will introduce measures to ensure long term viability is at the heart of our new Act.
5. Housing is crucial to the economy, health and social wellbeing of Scotland’s people. How will this panel encourage the provision of new affordable rural housing and what can be done to support existing rural housing providers?
UKIP would set a target of 50,000 social and affordable houses to be built over the course of the next Parliament.
To this end, we would operate a Brown Field First policy, creating a nationwide identification scheme for all usable brown field sites in Scotland.
UKIP would encourage moves by local authorities to prioritise people with strong local connections when making housing allocations.
6. Scotland’s wildlife, habitats and landscapes are a defining characteristic of our country, supported more extensively by land managers than nature reserves. What policies will the parties deliver that will help nature thrive not just on the 2% of the land that is a nature reserve but more on the 70% of Scotland’s land that is privately managed?
Scotland has a huge range of different habitats and extensive biodiversity which makes it hard for government to create legislation that fits all.
Therefore, we would replace the current system of top down management with a system of individual stewardship that allows those who manage the land to decide what counts as best practices for maintaining the environment and biodiversity.
A regional Scottish Natural Heritage would be responsible for liaising with land managers to provide them with the tools and knowledge as well as financial compensation. Those who sign up to habitat and wildlife management schemes run by private institutions that are recognised by the Scottish Government will automatically be eligible for financial compensation without SNH supervision.
UKIP also realises that targets set by government are arbitrary and can have contrary effects on the environment and biodiversity. For this reason, we will scrap targets regarding forestry and re-wilding, opting for local management of such matters.
7. Tourism, including country sports and forestry recreation, is a vital part not only of Scotland’s rural economy but also underpins its landscape and culture. What will the panel do to ensure that rural tourism in its many forms is supported and promoted?
UKIP will oppose the introduction of business rates on sporting estates. The introduction of a large fix cost will result in many estates abandoning country sports at a loss to the local economy.
Country sports are an important but unrecognised aspect of the Scottish tourist industry and provide a source of income to hotels and restaurants during times of the year when visitors are few in numbers. To promote Scottish country sports to people abroad we would create a spin off organisation from VisitScotland called SportingScotland.