Call For Scottish Government To Respond With Urgency To Regional Land Use Partnerships Report

NFU Scotland is calling for Scottish Government to respond to key concerns of farmers and crofters around the creation of Regional Land Use Partnerships (RLUPs) following publication of recommendations on their establishment.

The proposal for RLUPs was first set out in Scotland’s Land Use Strategy in 2016 and given fresh impetus with the Climate Change Act in 2019.   Scottish Land Commission (SLC) today (3 November) published its key recommendations to Scottish Government regarding the creation and development of RLUPs, expected to commence in 2021.

The topic of RLUPs was the focus of NFU Scotland’s recent Autumn Conference which attracted over 130 participants, sparking debate that highlighted key concerns farmers and crofters have about the proposals.  These focus on funding, ensuring farming and crofting is represented proportionately, the need to include food production in the scope of RLUPs and any potential impact on the business operations of farms and crofts.

Commenting after the publication of SLC recommendations, NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick who farms in Dumfries and Galloway said: “If established correctly, Regional Land Use Partnerships (RLUPs) could prove instrumental in allowing a more integrated approach to land use and driving a collaborative response to tackling climate change in Scotland.

We thank Scottish Land Commission for the open and constructive dialogue we have had on the subject, including its participation in our recent conference, and the ball is now firmly in Scottish Government’s court.
“First and foremost, the cost to the public purse and the source of future funding of RLUPs needs urgent clarity. 
“We welcome the SLC recommendation that Scottish Government must put a long-term funding commitment in place.  Crucially, NFU Scotland is clear that the budget for these partnerships must not draw down on Scottish Government’s existing funding commitments to agriculture and rural development.
“Debate during our conference was also clear that, given agriculture is the dominant land use across most of Scotland, the interests of Scotland’s farmers and crofters must be appropriately represented when it comes to the creation of RLUPs and board appointments at a regional level. 
“That would ensure a fair and transparent discussion within RLUPs on any issue that could potentially impact on and agricultural business.
“Farmers and crofters are committed to playing a full part in the nation’s response the climate and biodiversity crises, but it is equally important that their role in food production is included in the scope of RLUPs as well.
“With the recommendation to create the first RLUPs next year, with a full roll out across the country ahead on Scotland’s next Climate Change Plan in 2023/24, time is of the essence when it comes to Scottish Government addressing these concerns.
“Members who took part in our recent conference highlighted the lack of detail that exists around the creation of RLUPs.  With the publication of the SLC recommendations, farmers and crofters look to Scottish Government to quickly fill in the gaps.”
“NFUS staff and members have a critical role to play in and we will engage fully with ongoing discussions in relation to these partnerships.” 

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