A new, independent commission, being launched today, will examine how the economic performance of Scotland’s rural areas can be improved.
Set up by the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI), the body will spend two years taking evidence from businesses and organisations and recommend actions aimed at supporting growth and employment.
Issues the national rural commission is expected to consider include transport, digital connectivity, housing and the availability of skilled labour.
Its launch has been welcomed by Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing, who said it would provide “an independent voice for the promotion of best practice and innovation in policy.”
Chaired by Chris Gaffney, group finance director at Moray cashmere firm Johnstons of Elgin, the commission will hold its first meeting next week.
Mr Gaffney said: “With staff based across our bases in Elgin and Hawick we recognise the benefits of working in these areas of the country and the opportunities they present.
“But we also understand the challenges our employees face around access to transport, digital connectivity and housing.
“Many businesses struggle to attract and retain the people they need to thrive.”
SCDI said membership of the commission comprised “different sectors and geographies of Scotland.”
Among those involved are Aberdeenshire Council, Crown Estate Scotland, Highland Council,Liberty British Aluminium, Marine Harvest Scotland, Moray Estates, SSE, the University of the Highlands and Islands, and Stirling Council.