The Scottish Conservatives have launched an action plan for rural Scotland calling for more powers and more opportunities for all.
The plan ranges from a call to accelerate the roll out of superfast broadband to increasing the number of affordable homes for families who can’t afford high rents.
Scotland is already becoming one of the most centralised countries in the western world, the party warns today, with too much power concentrated in the M8 corridor.
Today’s plan is focused on spreading power down into our towns and villages – giving communities the right to decide on windfarms in their area, and demanding a review of the Police Scotland set up.
It also is aimed at delivering more opportunities for rural areas – supporting upgrades to transport infrastructure and a balanced package of land reform proposals.
The plan is grouped into six key areas:
SUPERFAST BROADBAND FOR ALL: we plan to get all of rural Scotland online to help families, businesses and charities.
A LOCAL POLICE FORCE: we back a review of the national police force to ensure it is fully accountable to rural communities.
A COMMUNITY RIGHT TO BLOCK WIND FARMS: we will back local councils who want to put a stop to new wind farms and ensure people whose property prices dropped due to farms are compensated.
BETTER COMMUNITY TRANSPORT: buses are a lifeline for rural communities so we will boost subsidies to increase the number and scope of routes.
BALANCED LAND REFORM: we will oppose moves to erode property ownership – but we also back a crackdown on tax avoidance by landowners and support funding for communities which want to lease land for the long term.
MORE AFFORDABLE RURAL HOMES: we back incentives for rural property owners and buyers to encourage them to provide affordable housing.
Lee Lyons said: "Many party's target urban voters and often forget the needs of people in rural communities. The Scottish Conservatives are bucking the trend with our extensive plan to help out people who live in rural communities. I live in Kirkmichael and know all to well about the fact that rural towns and villages are often ignored by the Scottish Government on the issue of windfarms for example, thats why I am delighted that Ruth Davidson has made the pledge to guarantee local communities the right to block windfarms".
Marc Hope said: "I support our rural village businesses and agri-businesses but realise that they need more target investments from Government to help them grow their businesses and cut down on costs. Our pledge to deliver super-fast broadband to all of Scotlands rural communities will help local businesses establish themselves fully online without fear of long-term signal loss which can be damaging to e-trade. More affordable rural homes will also help bolster local communities, provide local businesses with extra footfall and grow the rural economy".