The SNP has today launched its manifesto for rural Scotland, which sets out green and ambitious plans to keep people on the land – sustainably – and spend locally.
The party’s rural manifesto pledges to put rural communities at the heart of plans to protect the NHS, create jobs and opportunities for young people, grow the economy and meet Scotland’s net zero ambitions by 2045 with the following actions:
Increase frontline NHS spending by at least 20%, create a new centre for excellence for rural and remote medicine, roll out more mobile health services in rural areas, invest in our rural general hospitals and establish a fast track cancer diagnostic centre in every health board area.
Support more communities to benefit from Community Wealth Building where public services are required to spend in their local communities through increased local procurement, greater use of small businesses and ensuring taxpayers money is reinvested as far as possible in their local communities.
Develop a National Digital Academy to allow learners to access education from anywhere in Scotland, invest £25 million to improve mobile coverage in remote rural and island communities, and provide funding of up to £5,000 to help homes and businesses obtain super-fast broadband in areas where providers may not ordinarily go.
Champion our rural and island communities by creating a Rural Entrepreneur Fund, renewing the Community Empowerment Act, introducing new Land Reform Legislation with a presumption in favour of community buy-outs and invest £10 million into the Scotland Loves Local fund to revitalise high streets.
Improve connectivity by reinstating or developing new railway branch lines across rural Scotland, invest £500m in bus infrastructure, and ensure the road network in all parts of Scotland supports electric vehicles.
Bring in a new £15 million fund to support food processing and manufacture to develop local supply chains and transition to low or zero carbon operations.
Create an explicit economic link between catching and landing, incentivising the landing of more fish in Scotland creating more jobs and business opportunities onshore, especially in processing.
Deliver a further 100,000 affordable homes by 2032, which will support 14,000 jobs a year across Scotland, provide free school breakfasts and lunches to every primary school pupil, all year round, double the Scottish Child Payment and build a wraparound childcare system.
The SNP has also pledged to develop a rural visa pilot, maintain the doubled investment in the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund at £6.2 million, and create new ‘Tech-Scaler’ hubs in Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness and Edinburgh to ensure that businesses in rural areas can access commercial education virtually.
Commenting, SNP candidate for Aberdeenshire West, Fergus Mutch, said:
“The SNP will put rural communities at the heart of its ambitious plans to transform our economy after the pandemic and make the whole of Scotland – cities, islands and countryside alike – a better place to live, work and grow up.
“Our focus, if re-elected, will be to invest to help people and businesses stay and produce locally and sustainably, as well as improve connectivity, to ensure our rural communities flourish.
“In Government, the SNP has already fixed the CAP payments system, ensured Scotland got its fair share of convergence funding, delivered the Aberdeen Bypass and the Borders Railway, and our £579 million investment in the expansion of superfast broadband means every home and business in South and Central Scotland will have access by 2023, with work in the North of Scotland completed in the next five years.
“We have a strong record on standing up for rural communities and will continue to do so.
“It is only by voting SNP, the only party offering a route back to EU membership, on 6th May that we can truly protect and champion our rural economy, and put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands – not Boris Johnson’s.”