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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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WHITEFORD & LOCHHEAD URGE COMMUNITIES TO SPEAK UP FOR RURAL SCOTLAND

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Communities are being urged to speak up for rural Scotland and join the debate into its future.  A three month consultation has been launched on plans devised by the Rural Development Council to help economic recovery.

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead launched the consultation at Turriff Show this week.  Mr Lochhead then toured the show with Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford.

Commenting on the show, Eilidh Whiteford said:

"While the weather may have done its best on the first day of the show to dampen people's spirits, it's clear that the Turriff Show continues to go from strength to strength with more stands, more exhibits and more exhibition space being added this year. 

"I know also from speaking to local traders in the town that they have enjoyed a boost in takings from visitors to the show taking the opportunity to shop in the town centre. 

"It's an immense task organising the country's biggest two-day agricultural show and the office-bearers and show committee can be justly proud of their efforts again this year.  I wish them every success for next year."

Speaking at the launch of the consultation, Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said:

"Rural Scotland and its people have a central role to play in strengthening Scotland's economy. It has an important role in meeting the nation's challenges in relation to food, water and energy security and is critical to our efforts to tackle climate change. 

"Rural Scotland represents 94 per cent of our land mass, is home to almost one million people and sustains one of the most diverse environments in Europe. It has a lot to offer, not least the energy and dynamism of its people and communities. All this makes it a great place for people to live work and bring up their families - we need to keep it that way. 

"The Scottish Government has been working with rural communities and businesses to ensure they are in the strongest position possible to make best use of resources and emerge from the recession in as strong a position as possible. 

"That is why, last year, I asked the Rural Development Council to advise me on how best rural Scotland could contribute to this country's overall prosperity. 

"Their advice is contained in the document 'Speak Up for Rural Scotland'. This covers the great majority of issues affecting people today - the economy, land use, renewable energy, community empowerment and activity. 

"But, this is not the end of the story. I want to know what rural Scotland thinks of the suggestions the Rural Development Council are making. 

"I urge anyone with an interest in rural Scotland to read this document and let me know what these proposals will mean for individuals, communities and organisations. 

"Whatever direction we take we must ensure that the energy and enterprising spirit of rural communities can continue to punch above their weight." 

The Rural Development Council is an informal group set up in 2008 to provide independent and impartial advice on all rural issues. All members of the Council have particular expertise and interests in rural issues. Brief details of each of the Council members are contained within the Speak Up for Rural Scotland consultation document.

Members include Kate Braithwaite, Director of Carnegie UK Trust Rural Programme, Stuart Housden, Director of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) Scotland, and Neil MacLeod, Chair of the Scottish Crofting Foundation.

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