In the final week of the Parliament’s summer recess, I joined members of the Parliament’s Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee on a visit to the Glenlivet Estate.
The Estate is one of a number of Crown Estate assets in Scotland and we were shown around by their representatives.
The visit offered members of the committee the opportunity to discuss a broad range of issues relating to the rural economy and to include people living and working in rural communities in the discussion.
During the visit we had the opportunity to meet with tenant farmers working on the Estate. The sector is facing a number of challenges to balance the needs of tenants and landlords with issues like rent reviews, succession and attracting new entrants to tenant farming all on the agenda.
Land management and community working were also on the agenda with the work of the land reform review group continuing. Half of Scotland’s land is owned by around 430 owners. I am keen to see a fairer distribution with an extension of community right to buy to ensure that communities have the opportunity to develop land for community benefit.
Another key area discussed on the visit was tourism and how we can make use of our landscape to attract visitors. I was particularly impressed with work to develop tourism opportunities focused on mountain biking. The work being done to develop facilities was being taken forward in a way that was sensitive to the local environment and this is a key consideration for any development of our natural spaces.
The RACCE Committee will be hearing from and questioning representatives of the Crown Estate at our next meeting on Wednesday 11 September. This is an annual fixture for the Committee.
I am grateful to the people that we met during the visit for taking the time to speak to us about these and other issues to help inform the committee’s work moving forward.