At last week’s Black Isle Show it was announced that the Crofting Commission and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HiE) would have a closer working relationship in order to further support crofting in Scotland. This follows a meeting between Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing, and the Crofting Commission in June, with subsequent discussions between leaders of both organisations.
An initial step will be for representatives of the Crofting Commission to attend the HiE Board meeting in October to discuss crofting issues.
During his visit to the Show, Mr. Ewing met with representatives from both organisations. He said: “I welcome this positive development. Given their respective interests, it's only natural that the Crofting Commission and HiE should have a close working relationship, so it makes a great deal of sense to decide to formally work together in this way.
"This arrangement will undoubtedly lead to even closer collaboration between crofters, the wider crofting community, and the HiE who undertake extensive work in the Highlands and islands with the crofting community.”
"This Government is absolutely committed to crofting: a successful crofting sector helps our rural communities to thrive. It is therefore wholly appropriate for HIE's board and the Crofting Commission to establish an even closer working relationship."
Also welcoming the initiative, Crofting Commission Convener, Rod MacKenzie said: “We look forward to a closer working relationship with HiE which we view as a further positive step towards the continued strengthening and development of crofting in Scotland. Both organisations have two very different roles but together can work to make a real difference to crofting and crofters.”
“Crofting is a way of life, a livelihood, and forms a connection to the community around you. It is most certainly an asset to a modern-day Scotland, providing both economic and social value. Crofting helps maintain rural communities and also encourages growth of small businesses through diversification which in turn generates income.”
Also speaking from the Black Isle Show, Carroll Buxton, HiE Director of Regional Development, said: "Crofting is an important feature of the rural environment in the Highlands and Islands. It is integral to many rural economies and communities. As such, it is very relevant to HIE's remit for both community and rural economic development.”
"We very much welcome the prospect of closer links with the Crofting Commission. Their expertise will be extremely valuable to our deliberations on matters that relate to crofting and crofting areas. In working more closely together, we can ensure our joint efforts are focused appropriately on areas of most value to crofting communities."
Left to right: Rural Economy Secretary, Mr. Fergus Ewing MSP. HiE Director of Regional Development, Carroll Buxton. Crofting Commission Convener, Rod MacKenzie.