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Sustainable Economic Growth Should Direct Land Use Strategy

Sustainable economic growth should be at the heart of Scotland’s Land Use Strategy. That was the message from NFU Scotland to MSPs as NFUS Head of Rural Policy, Jonathan Hall gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs and the Environment Committee yesterday (Wednesday 8 December).

The committee was taking evidence on the Scottish Government’s draft Land Use Strategy, which will set out for the first time a high-level, long-term agenda for sustainable land use across Scotland

Section 57 of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 requires Scottish ministers to lay a land use strategy before the Scottish Parliament by 31 March 2011. NFUS believes the draft strategy has very laudable aims with which it is difficult to disagree, however, the strategy should prioritise sustainable economic growth.

Speaking after the committee session, NFUS Head of Rural Policy Jonathan Hall said:

“We cannot escape the fact that Scotland’s land is a finite resource and, in a small country, a very precious one at that. Those making policy decisions affecting Scotland’s land must accept that it cannot meet all the demands and expectations that are placed on it. That is the case now and will almost certainly be the case in the future.

“Land use in Scotland can never be unique or exclusive. A primary interest may dominate any particular parcel of land – as a function of the capability of that land and economic reality – that same area of land will hold other attributes and deliver other benefits.

“For example, agricultural land use dominates the Scottish landscape as the primary land use, covering around 5.5 million hectares (or almost 70 per cent of Scotland’s total land mass). It is essential that the Land Use Strategy allows that primary land use to prosper so that it can continue to provide a range of consequential benefits, such as biodiversity, habitats and landscape, renewable energy provision and carbon storage, as well as providing the foundations for outdoor recreation and tourism.

“The current emphasis of the Land Use Strategy is largely on climate change issues, with direct reference and prominence given to the concept of a low-carbon economy, tree planting targets to sequester carbon and initiatives to minimise climate change impacts at farm level, etc. While tackling climate change is a priority, it must not be the only priority, particularly during the economic downturn. Rather, the overarching objective of the LUS should be on sustainable economic growth, nurturing successful land-based businesses that can deliver flourishing natural environments and underpin vibrant rural communities.

“The fact that a Land Use Strategy exists is also no guarantee that such ambition will be realised. Practical policy measures must be implemented to allow the integration of land use interests to create greater overall benefit.

“The real value of the Land Use Strategy will be in bringing additional benefits to the way in which land is managed. NFUS believes that traditional and new land uses, such as farming and renewable energy, can be integrated in complementary fashion to increase the overall benefits of these activities.”

Ends

Contact Sarah Anderson on 0131 472 4108

 

Date Published:

News Article No.: 168/10


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