One of the biggest consultations in recent years on the future of the rural economy in Scotland has been launched and everyone in South Lanarkshire who has an interest in rural matters is being urged to get involved and have their say.
The consultation is being co-ordinated by the National Council of Rural Advisers (NCRA), an independent body providing advice and recommendations on rural policy to the Scottish Government.
The NCRA has a vision for a vibrant, sustainable and inclusive rural economy, which offers potential for growth and the creation of new opportunities - and this consultation plays an integral part in achieving that.
Sarah Millar is a member of the NCRA. She grew up on an organic farm and is also a member of the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs (SAYFC) where she was until recently chair of their agricultural and rural affairs committee.
She said: “The rural economy has huge untapped potential that we are building a strategy to unleash, and you can be a part of it.
“This is a great opportunity for change and we need input from as many people as possible, which is why we are holding this nationwide consultation.
“We have been on a ‘road trip’ right around Scotland, visiting a number of stakeholders from all across the country, and from that we have drafted a road map - a discussion document that highlights issues we feel are key to the future success of Scotland’s rural economy - and we want to hear what you think.
“This discussion document is exactly that – a basis for a conversation and ideas. We know that people in rural areas often feel excluded and that there is no focal point for them locally, and we want to change that.
“Now is the ideal time to be bold and ambitious and change the traditional narrative around the rural economy of Scotland and the opportunity it presents.
“It is true that we have been here before but now more than ever we have the opportunity to deliver.
“We need you to look at the recommendations we have outlined and bring your ideas, creativity and vision to help us make our rural economy the heart-beat of Scotland’s future.
“So whether you are a B&B owner in Strathaven, a farmer in Biggar or a teacher or nurse East Kilbride, we want hear from you.”
The consultation focuses on three key areas – people, vision and infrastructure – and comprises ten questions on various issues, including how best to create valuable employment opportunities, how to effectively represent the contribution and value of the rural Scotland, what skills are needed to encourage entrepreneurship and how to ensure that infrastructure is fit for purpose.
Submissions and comments on the discussion document must be submitted before the closing date of Tuesday, July 24th, 2018.
Links to the discussion document and full consultation can be viewed and filled in online at www.ncra.scot.