Scottish Land & Estates has said it is vital that both the UK and Scottish governments work hard to provide ‘clarity and certainty’ to the nation’s rural businesses and communities following today’s EU referendum result.
The organisation added that whilst the result will undoubtedly present tough challenges to rural Scotland, there was also a need for the rural sector to be ready to embrace future opportunities that arise from the outcome.
David Johnstone, chairman of Scottish Land & Estates, says: ‘Every individual and business across the UK will be digesting the referendum result and trying to forecast what it will mean for their own personal circumstances.
‘The forthcoming weeks and months will undoubtedly be a time of flux but that is why we need the UK and Scottish governments to give a clear and resounding message that they stand firmly behind our rural areas and in particular, the farming and land-based enterprises that play such a key role in the countryside.
“Whilst there is an impact from European Union decisions on all our lives, arguably nowhere is the role of the EU felt more acutely than on Scotland’s farms. We need to know that the CAP or its equivalent funding will continue in the short-term – ideally until the end of its present term at the end of 2020 – which will provide some necessary breathing space to plan beyond that period.
“The Prime Minister said this morning that the devolved governments would play a key role in shaping Britain’s exit from the European Union and we will make sure our assistance is offered to the Scottish Government during this period.’
Scottish Land & Estates added that work has already been undertaken on formulating policy in the event of Brexit and that it will look to discuss this with the Scottish Government in the coming days.
Mr Johnstone says: ‘The last decade has seen a lot of change for Scotland’s rural enterprises and whilst a period of calm may have been preferable for some, we need to embrace the positive opportunities that will present themselves. Scotland’s rural areas remain strong, vibrant and healthy and can continue to deliver economically, socially and environmentally.
“There is a lot of work ahead on EU exit discussions but there is a pressing need for parallel discussions to take place during this period to shape a new approach to support the rural sector. The nature of our exit is important but what is most important is developing a clear plan for rural Scotland.”