SCOTLAND’S Rural Economy Secretary has written to the UK Government calling for clarity on plans to replace EU rural development funding after Brexit.

Fergus Ewing said that guarantees and clear timelines are needed on replacing EU LEADER funding, which supports projects to develop local facilities and infrastructure and encourage innovation.

In a letter to Environment Secretary Michael Gove, Ewing said that LEADER funding is important to Scotland’s rural economy.

He reiterated that a gap in funding for Scotland after leaving the EU would be unacceptable.

In his letter Ewing said: “I write to you to press for clarity on the future of EU LEADER funding. LEADER has injected over £93 million in 11 years into the rural economy in Scotland. A further £130m of match-funding has been attracted over that period.

“That’s a total of £223m including around 140 per cent of match-funding which will be lost to our rural communities.

“LEADER has been in existence for over 25 years. This important support has helped businesses and communities to kick-start new projects, to develop, innovate, provide new facilities and local infrastructure. Not to mention the jobs that have been created and safeguarded as a consequence of the funding. The absence of this funding will have a significant negative impact on rural Scotland.”