A powerful voice for the people of rural Scotland.

Dear All,

There has been some positive progress for rural communities in the last few months across a wide-range of policy areas and including the fulfilment of several key objectives identified at the Scottish Rural Parliament 2014.

A pledge from both our Prime Minister and our First Minister to provide 100% broadband coverage is exceedingly welcome. We are looking forward to meeting with Scottish Government's Digital Scotland team in April to explore the options available to rural communities.

New financing options for rural housing provision are also to be applauded. Although evidence indicates a much greater gap in housing needs than even these funds will be able to meet, they will enable communities to take positive action towards meeting those needs.

The COSLA ‘Manifesto for a Stronger Scottish Democracy’ is a step forward in a tricky area that remains a clear identified need. The Future Islands Bill and the recent commitment of the Highland Council to a Skye Committee are both interesting developments in the potential reform of local democracy and we look forward to seeing actions in other parts of Scotland.

Finally, the passing of the eagerly (albeit tensely in some quarters) awaited Land Reform Bill has been generally greeted as a significant milestone in the development of a fairer Scotland.

I hope you enjoy reading further details of all these developments and more.


Amanda Burgauer

Broadband commitments

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has pledged to provide 100% superfast broadband coverage in Scotland, following a similar pledge from Prime Minister David Cameron. There are no details yet outlining how this will be delivered, but the commitment is nonetheless extremely good news for rural communities.

In the meantime, Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) has developed a programme offering subsidised satellite broadband installation to eligible properties in Scotland. To find out if you are eligible visit:

Local democracy

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) have released a Manifesto for a Stronger Scottish Democracy. They want to harness the power of a more locally democratic way of doing things, and overhaul participation in decision making across the country. They are asking parliamentary candidates to sign up to the 5 key pledges:
1. Make Scotland’s public services local by default
2. Redraw the partnership between local and national government
3. Give communities financial choices
4. Open up Scottish Democracy
5. Join up thinking on reform

Find out more and read the Manifesto here:

Future Islands Bill

Nearly 200 responses were submitted to the Scottish Government consultation held on Provisions for a Future Islands Bill. Many stated that a ‘one size fits all’ approach to legislation, policy and services does not take the unique requirements of island life into consideration.

Of the responses received, 91% wanted the Scottish Government to consider placing ‘island-proofing’ in legislation through the Islands Bill and 98% want to ensure public bodies also island-proof their work. For more information visit:

A progress report has been publicised in March 2016 by the Island Area Ministerial Working Group which you can find here: 

Communities Leading

We are pleased Scottish Community Alliance have launched their Local People Leading – A Vision for a Stronger Community Sector report.

The report includes discussion and insight into community empowerment, visioning and local democratic reform. Visit to find out more.

The Land Reform Bill (Scotland)

The Land Reform (Scotland) Bill was passed by the Scottish Parliament on 16th March 2016. The Bill will:
· Allow Ministers to create a public register of those with a controlling interest in land and increase the transparency around land ownership
· Encourage and support responsible, diverse land ownership
· Address issues of fairness, equality and social justice connected to the ownership of, access to and use of land in Scotland
· Introduce a new process to sell or assign farm tenancies, creating a secure route out of farming for those without a successor

Scottish Land Fund

The new round of the Scottish Land Fund will open on 1st April 2016, with £10 million available to help community-buyouts.The Scottish Land Fund is open to organisations in both urban and rural Scotland which are community-led, community-controlled, and defined by a geographic area. To find out more or to apply visit:

Community Right to Buy

Two consultations on the community right-to-buy have been launched, the first on the crofting community right to buy, and the second on the community right to buy abandoned, neglected or detrimental land have been launched.

Rural Housing Funds

We are very pleased to note three recent opportunities now available (or coming soon) to support the provision of affordable housing in rural Scotland.

Derek Logie from Rural Housing Scotland said "Affordable rural housing is critical to sustaining and developing our rural communities.

"The Rural Housing Fund has the potential to offer a huge boost to the delivery of affordable rural housing and we are delighted that the Scottish Government has demonstrated its commitment to rural Scotland with this announcement. 

"We are particularly pleased that community organisations can apply to the fund and access feasibility support. Developing affordable rural housing has many challenges: we hope the Rural Housing Fund will help rural communities to overcome these and deliver good quality, warm and affordable housing.

"The increase to the Croft House grant is very welcome and we hope that support will become available in due course to enable wider self-build in rural Scotland. The loan fund is a positive start but we would also like to see government support to make self-build more affordable.”

Rural Housing Fund
The Scottish Government has launched a £25 million Rural Housing Fund which will be available from April 2016 over 3 years. This aims to increase the supply of affordable housing of all tenures in rural Scotland and will contribute to the 50,000 affordable homes target. The fund is now open for applications. Apply here:

Croft House Grant Scheme
Environment Minister Aileen McLeod has announced changes to the Croft House Grant Scheme. The level of grant support available to help crofters build and improve their homes is to be significantly increased, which will go live on 1st April 2016. This will enable crofters to apply for up to £28000 or £38000 if they live on an island of specified mainland area. Apply here:

Highland Self-Build Loan Fund
This is a £4 million Scottish Government pilot fund to allow eligible applicants to borrow up to £150,000 to build a home in the Highland Council area and then repay the loan with a traditional mortgage on completion. The fund is now live for applications to the Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust. The result of the pilot will be used to inform future policy for self-build support in Scotland. Apply here:

For more information on rural housing in Scotland, check out Rural Housing Scotland:

Join Us! 
Become A Member Of Scottish Rural Action Today! 
To become a member of Scottish Rural Action, the body responsible for the Scottish Rural Parliament, follow the link below:

Copyright © *|2015|* *|Scottish Rural Parliament|*, All rights reserved.

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences 

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp