Scottish Liberal Democrats have today warned of a “demographic time bomb” following a survey which found that almost half of young people are planning to move away from the Highlands and Islands over the next five years.
The survey, commissioned by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, found that 47% of respondents between the ages of 16 and 29 said that they planned to move away from the Highlands and Islands within the next five years.
Several problems were highlighted in the survey, including housing, access to healthcare and connectivity.
76% of respondents believed there are not enough houses to rent at a reasonable price in the region.
Just 66% of households were within a twenty-minute drive to mental health services and 37% of people said they had to drive at least 20 minutes to the nearest supermarket.
Commenting on the survey’s findings, Scottish Liberal Democrat spokesperson for remote and rural communities and Highland councillor, Molly Nolan said:
“The Highlands and Islands are facing a demographic time bomb, with almost half of young people planning to move away within the next five years.
“The Scottish Government has been consistently warned about this, but SNP and Green ministers have failed to act with the urgency required to support rural and remote communities.
“Now we are seeing the consequences of their inaction.
“It is unforgivable.
“Our Central Belt government is more than happy to point to our region as a tourist attraction, but when it comes to building basic infrastructure for the people who live here, ministers simply don’t want to know.
“They need to get serious about housing, healthcare and connectivity before the damage becomes irreparable.”