RURAL and island communities will have a chance to have their voices heard in local and national decision-making as a result of a Scottish Government funding boost.

Around £80,000 will help to deliver this year’s Scottish Rural and Islands Parliament, which has been running since 2014.

The outcomes of discussions from the next parliament will be presented to the Scottish Government and will be considered as part of work to develop the Rural Delivery Plan and review the National Islands Plan.

They will also be showcased at the European Rural Parliament in September 2024.

Discussions at previous sessions of the parliament helped to shape the concept of 20-minute neighbourhoods – where residents can meet this daily needs within a 20-minute walk of their home - within the National Planning Framework.

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First Minister Humza Yousaf said he believes it is vital rural and island communities have a say in decisions that affect them and is urging people to sign up for this year’s event.

Speaking at the Nevis Centre in Fort William, where the Rural and Islands Parliament will be convened, Yousaf said: “When I became First Minister, I promised to lead Scotland in the interests of all of our people and to listen and work with anyone and everyone who shares my vision of a fairer Scotland.

“I believe, therefore, that is It is vital that rural and island communities and businesses have a say in decisions that affect them.

“The Scottish Rural and Islands Parliament – the only rural parliament in the UK – provides an important opportunity for people who work and live in these areas to have their voices heard.

“The discussions and views aired will help to inform Scottish Government policy-making. Indeed, discussions at previous Rural Parliaments helped to shape the concept of 20-minute neighbourhoods within the National Planning Framework.

“The most recent Scottish Rural Parliament in 2021 hosted a democratic assembly of over 600 participants from across rural Scotland. I would encourage anyone with an interest to sign up for this year’s event and to make what I am sure will be very valuable contributions to the discussions on the future of Scotland’s rural and island communities.”

The Scottish Government has supported voluntary organisation Scottish Rural Action (SRA) to set up four such Parliaments since 2014.

The event is supported by a partnership of over 40 organisations, coordinated by SRA and the Scottish Islands Federation, and more than 400 people have taken part in each event.

Chair of SRA, Theona Morrison, said: “Rural and island places make up 98% of our country’s landmass.

“They are the locus of our natural assets, of our capacity to produce food and generate energy, and of a rich, enterprising, cultural and linguistic tapestry. We have an opportunity now to shine a light on the solutions that rural and islands communities offer to global challenges, including climate change.

“We look forward to sharing these solutions with the First Minister after the November event, and to working with the Scottish Government to build the resilience and sustainability of our rural and island places from the Borders and Lothians, to Shetland; and to make these solutions a reality.”      

The Rural and Islands Parliament will be an in-person gathering hosted by the Nevis Centre from November 1 to 3.