Letters to the editor – July 2, 2021

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An open letter from groups representing land, river and coastal workers to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP

First Minister,

We write jointly to you with an urgent request that you prioritise safeguarding the employment of land, river and coastal workers in Scotland as you progress partnership discussions with the Scottish Green Party.

Our respective groups represent many thousands of workers who have given service, knowledge and skills to the cause and betterment of Scotland for centuries.

We respect your right to hold discussions with the Scottish Green Party or any other party; we understand and support the national priorities of addressing climate change and we feel our respective memberships offer much to the country in this joint endeavour.

We will not be able to participate fully, however, while major question marks hang over jobs, families, homes, communities and the collective futures of our memberships.

The Scottish Green Party has made public its opposition to sectors it deems not to fit its vision of a Scotland tackling climate change.

The prospect of a party with so little public voting support potentially holding significant influence over key decisions affecting so many workers’ livelihoods is causing considerable cross-sector concern and many questions.

We have no evidence available to us which enables us to trust the Scottish Green Party to commit to protecting jobs as part of any so- called ‘Just Transition’.

No concrete solutions have been offered to date for the people at the sharp end who are making a living in rural and coastal Scotland but could potentially stand to lose much if Green policies are delivered.

We also understand the concerns amongst workers in the oil and gas sectors, whom we have communicated with.

The Scottish Greens’ election manifesto commitments will tear apart some sectors, such as game and angling.

The party has not endeavoured to engage with workers in all sectors or heard the steps signatories have already taken to help Scotland on its climate journey and what these organisations can do in the months and years ahead.

There are considerable concerns regarding future national food security and the planting of millions of trees in the wrong places, seemingly with inadequate oversight.

This will impact upon opportunities for future generations of farmers whilst changing Scotland’s landscapes and biodiversity forever.

There are major worries regarding punitive prohibitions to sustainable fishing around coastal waters and further erosion of livelihoods in coastal communities.

Our collective view is that, if afforded too much influence, the Scottish Greens’ policy priorities will devastate already fragile communities, instigate major job losses, worsen social inequality and the mental health of workers who already feel under persistent pressure from the extent and direction of environmental aspirations which are often driven, sometimes with little consultation, by powerful NGOs.

Removing the livelihoods of thousands of workers who have much to deliver is, in our view, not the solution to address a climate or biodiversity crisis, or the need to rebuild the Scottish economy hit hard by the pandemic.

Our combined memberships operate in sectors which generate hundreds of millions of pounds for the Scottish economy annually.

Rural and coastal communities have already been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19 and are additionally coming to terms with major changes following Brexit.

There are also worries about the direction of international trade deals in the farming world and genuine concerns over lack of clarity on agriculture support payments.

We ask you to provide solemn assurances to signatory parties that Scottish Government will not sacrifice our members’ livelihoods and futures in any power sharing agreement with the Scottish Greens and that you will protect their interests and what their vocation means to them, their families and the cultural heritage of Scotland.

We ask also that you instruct your Ministers to engage with any signatory parties, who have to yet been involved in climate/biodiversity discussions, to hear their views and consider what they can deliver to Scotland on the journey to Net Zero, whilst still continuing to prop up the economies and communities in which they serve.

The Scottish Gamekeepers Association; National Sheep Association; NSA Scotland; SGA Fishing Group; The Game Farmers Association (UK); Scottish Field Trials Association; Angus Glens Moorland Group; Grampian Moorland Group; Southern Uplands Moorland Group; Tayside and Central Scotland Moorland Group; Loch Ness Rural Communities; Speyside Moorland Group; Tomatin Moorland Group. *Statement in support to arrive from coastal fishery members of Communities Inshore Fisheries Alliance

Communities ignored

Sir,

I’m very concerned that the views of our  community councils have not been listened to concerning the [ward electoral] boundary changes.

Residents of Islay, Jura and Colonsay are confused that the Islands Act, supposed to empower our islands, is being referenced in these boundary changes which will lead to those of us who live on the islands having less representation.

It’s disappointing that our community councils’ wish to retain the existing ward boundary seems to have been in the Boundaries Scotland recommendations.

Contrary to the views put forward, it seems that we are to be turned into an ‘islands only’ ward with no Kintyre connection and one less councillor.

Ileachs find it hard to understand that our communities’ wishes should simply have been disregarded and dismissed in this way.

Councillor Alastair Redman, Kintyre and the Islands ward