Speak Up for Rural Scotland: Analysis of Consultation Responses RF 17/2011

These research findings were published in January 2011.

“In 2009, the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment asked the Rural Development Council for specific advice on how rural Scotland could best contribute to the creation of a more successful country through sustainable economic growth. The consultation document ‘Speak Up for Rural Scotland’ set out the Council’s response. The report focused on 7 overarching themes and suggested 37 Step Changes designed to generate innovation and activity and to stimulate individuals and enterprises to work together to bring about a prosperous rural Scotland.

A total of 131 written responses to the consultation were received, comprising 83 responses from organisations and 48 from individuals. George Street Research was commissioned to undertake analysis of the consultation responses and notes from 9 consultation events. Key findings from the analysis are summarised below.

Main Findings

  • The clear priority amongst the 37 Step Changes is access to high-speed broadband in all of rural Scotland. This was seen by respondents as a fundamental requirement to allow rural businesses to function effectively and be competitive, as well as offering potential benefits for community and social wellbeing.
  • Respondents felt that a greater focus is required on: issues related to transport and/or infrastructure; protecting the environment; entrepreneurial skills; education and training; particular sectors such as tourism, country sports and the creative industries; and the importance of community land ownership.
  • In terms of implementation of the Step Changes, respondents highlighted the importance of engaging with local communities and/or local delivery of the Step Changes. Partnership working was also emphasised, as was the need for investment/ availability of funding.
  • Many respondents indicated their willingness to contribute to their local community/economy, local prosperity. They outlined how they were working together with other communities and organisations to grow their community and economy.
  • Other themes to emerge related to the need for capacity building; evidence gathering; and the sharing of good practice. Encouraging people, especially young people, to remain in or return to rural areas was also highlighted as an important area for consideration.
  • Many of the proposals contained in ‘Speak Up for Rural Scotland’ received a very positive response. Respondents did, however, stress the importance of these proposals leading to action.”

The full report is also available.

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