NFU Scotland’s Crofting and Highlands & Islands Committee has asked the Scottish Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Stewart Stevenson to ensure that Scotland’s crofts remain economically viable and continue to support crofting communities.
Mr Stevenson was attending the committee’s meeting in Invermoriston, near Fort Augustus today (Tuesday, 29 November).
NFU Scotland crofting members from Skye, Sutherland, Orkney, Mull, Inverness, Argyll and Caithness attended the meeting.
Chairman of the committee, Mrs Jo Durno said:
“This may have been the Minister’s first visit to our committee since he took on his new brief but it is clear that he appreciates the importance of a vibrant crofting sector in Scotland. Crofting not only underpins many local communities but it continues to have a vital function in Scottish agriculture at large
“Important aspects of crofting in the future have been laid out in 2010 Crofting Act, which is being introduced in phases. We welcome the Minister’s confirmation that the forthcoming consultation on elections to the crofting commission is about to reach the Scottish Parliament. This raises the welcome prospect of crofters taking the majority of positions on the commission in the future.
“Our committee members also took the opportunity to raise with the minister the major concerns they have over the issue of neglect and the need to have an effective means of dealing with it to ensure we have continuing crofting activity in these fragile areas.
“Another major point brought up at the meeting was the need to ensure we have the next generation of crofters ready to take the management of crofting lands. Key to this is the provision of agriculture and crofting training, and delivering that training locally to crofting communities themselves
“In terms of support for the crofting sector, we were reminded that all Governments are operating under significant budgetary constraints. However, while budgets are largely fixed there does appear to be room within those budgets and NFUS will be giving due consideration as to how we can make best use of financial resources to support our crofters.
“All in all, this was a very useful meeting and we look forward to a constructive dialogue with the Minister on all crofting issues.”