‘Stop playing politics with the countryside’ – SCA

The Scottish Countryside Alliance (SCA) have called on the next Scottish government to protect, connect, grow and enrich rural Scotland – and stop playing politics with the countryside.

Ahead of the Scottish Parliament election on May 6, the SCA have launched their manifesto that focuses on rural crime; digital connectivity; the rural economy; and the importance of country sports.

The SCA said that the countryside faces significant challenges now Scotland has left the European Union, and as it recovers from Covid-19.

As such, it wants the next Scottish government to pursue policies that do something for the countryside, rather than to the countryside.

There have been repeated efforts from political parties to reduce the number of dogs that lawfully hunt to two, and even to ban hunting as a form of pest control completely.

This is despite a Scottish government review by Lord Bonomy concluding “the use of packs of hounds to flush out foxes to be shot remains a significant pest control measure”.

The SCA are aware that as well as hunting legislation, parties have promised to pursue shooting and deer management legislation too.

The SCA added that a missstep on one of these could cause “considerable damage” to environmental, as well as economic outcomes for Scotland.

Threat to rural Scotland by playing politics

Scottish Countryside Alliance spokesman Ed Rowlandson said:

“Rural Scotland is an interwoven tapestry of cultural, economic, environmental and community issues.

“A threat to any one aspect could lead to the unravelling of the whole, which is why promoting and protecting Scotland’s rural communities will be important for the next Scottish government, especially now we have left the European Union, and as we recover from the devastation Covid-19 has caused.

Rural policy must be based on sound evidence and research. Too often political parties play politics with the countryside, not recognising the needs of those who live and work there, or the consequences that poor legislation creates.

“The next Scottish government must recognise that the success of rural Scotland is dependent on each sector, community and business working together to deliver on Scotland’s environmental and economic ambitions,” he concluded.