Scotland’s Rural Parliament to build on referendum momentum

Scotland’s first Rural Parliament must ‘build on the dynamics of the independence referendum’, Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead has said.

In his speech to open the inaugural event’s main session in Oban, Mr Lochhead urged delegates to give further momentum to the principles of participatory democracy to build a new rural movement for Scotland.

The Cabinet Secretary also announced that funding for the Scottish Rural Network (SRN) is set to double to £4 million over the next six years of Scotland’s Rural Development Programme. The additional cash will enable the SRN to connect communities, businesses and individuals across rural Scotland and continue to support important initiatives and networking events like the Rural Parliament.

Mr Lochhead said: “The timing of Scotland’s very first Rural Parliament couldn’t be better – we are currently debating how to devolve more power to Scotland. Rural Parliaments in other countries have proven to be a catalyst for lasting change and that is my ambition here.

“We must build on the dynamics of the independence referendum and give further momentum to the principles of participatory democracy if we are to build a new rural movement for Scotland. Living in rural Scotland has many advantages but it also has its challenges. I have long-believed that rural communities themselves are best placed to identify the issues that concern them and to come up with possible solutions.

“That is why I am delighted to announce the doubling of funding for the Scottish Rural Network (SRN) to £4 million over the next six years. The SRN is already supporting sustainable rural development by connecting communities, businesses and individuals across rural Scotland through, for example, networking events, newsletters and project visits. This additional funding will greatly enhance the existing Network, enabling it to do so much more to support the implementation of the new Scottish Rural Development Programme.

“In particular, I would like to see the SRN and the Rural Parliament work together to make many of the visions for rural Scotland discussed here this week a reality.”

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