How we’re supporting Scotland’s rural and remote communities

We want all Scotland’s communities to thrive. The SNP is committed to supporting those in rural and remote areas of Scotland – here’s 10 things we’ve done over our 10 years in Government.

  • We’ve invested a record £1 billion in vessels, ports and ferry services since 2007 as part of our commitment to our islands and remote communities.
  • Fares on lifeline ferry services have been frozen until 2017 for passengers, cars and commercial vehicles.
  • And, we’ve rolled out Road Equivalent Tariff to all ferry routes in the Clyde and Hebrides, providing significantly reduced ferry fares.
  • Residents of Caithness and north-west Sutherland, Colonsay, Islay, Jura, Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles are eligible for a 50 per cent discount on air fares.
  • We’ve also transformed Scotland’s road network, investing £3 billion to dual 80 miles of carriageway on the A9 Perth-Inverness, £745 million for the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route, plus M8, M73 and M74 motorway improvements.
  • We’re investing in digital connectivity, with £400 million to deliver superfast broadband to 95 per cent of properties across Scotland by the end of 2017. And we’ll reach 100 per cent by 2021.
  • To help protect jobs and businesses, we’ve slashed or abolished business rates for 100,000 premises. And we’re extending the Small Business Bonus Scheme to ensure business premises valued at up to £15,000 will pay no rates – 100,000 businesses in all.
  • We’re providing additional funding for businesses in rural areas to help them create Modern Apprenticeship places. This will support our progress towards our commitment of at least 30,000 new Modern Apprenticeship starts across Scotland per year by 2020.
  • We are supporting the building of new homes and refurbishment of existing properties in rural areas through the £25 million Rural Housing Fund, and delivering 100 affordable homes in island communities through a £5 million fund.
  • We’ve created 100 new GP training posts per year. A proportion of the new training places will also come with £20,000 bursary for GP trainees committed to working in hard to fill locations, such as remote and rural areas.
  • We’ve put in place a presumption against rural school closures, through a clear and focused legislative framework which provides for issues wider than just financial considerations.
  • With produce output worth around £2.3 billion a year and around 65,000 people directly employed, we work tirelessly to get the best deal for Scotland’s farmers, crofters and growers. 
  • The clean, green status of our valuable food and drink sector has been protected by opting out of cultivation of genetically modified crops in Scotland.

Keep up to date with how we’re supporting rural Scotland by joining our rural group here.