Policy priorities for Highland in post BREXIT

Steven Thomson SRUC, Linda Stewart UHI, Cllr Jimmy Gray (Summit Chair), Fraser Grieve SCDI, Louise McGunnigle, Highland Council, Prof John Bachtler, University of Strathclyde
(ltor) Steven Thomson SRUC, Linda Stewart UHI, Cllr Jimmy Gray (Summit Chair), Fraser Grieve SCDI, Louise McGunnigle Highland Council, Prof John Bachtler University of Strathclyde

Since the referendum decision to leave the European Union, The Highland Council has considered and made representations on a number of issues which have potential implications for the Highland economy and Highland communities.

EU funding has brought hundreds of millions of pounds of assistance to the region over the past 40 years which has been critical to the region’s growth. The Council has taken every opportunity to work with partners to identify to the Scottish and UK Governments, the potential implications in Highland arising from BREXIT to ensure we have the right support in place to allow Highland to continue to thrive.

The Highland Council agreed key policy areas on which to lobby post BREXIT at its meeting in September. There is a need to ensure that Scottish and UK policy addresses the economic circumstances of Highland, to ensure that the challenges of living and working in the region are identified, and that the case for investment and support is made to enable the region to realise its full potential. In this context, the Council has agreed that regional policy; inward migration, access to markets and agriculture crofting and land management, are priority issues to be progressed.

In order to support the Council’s continued engagement and ensure the needs of our businesses and communities are recognised, a Brexit seminar is to be held on Friday 30 November at Council Headquarters. This will see discussion on potential impacts but also how these might be addressed with speakers from The University of Strathclyde, SCDI, SRUC, the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) and Scotland Europa.

Councillor Jimmy Gray, Administration lead for European matters, said:

“Discussions depend on good will between all parties and governments. This is a very complex subject which needs us all working together. There are a lot of partners involved, all with different priorities and we need to find some common ground.  If we can have a clear voice on priorities across the Highlands and Islands, we have a better chance of success.”

Leader of the Highland Council, Margaret Davidson added:

“The risks are clear and the opportunities and positives are a lot less clear. My duty is to represent the Highlands, including those who voted for Brexit.

“We need to talk about a common regional policy and we need to be asking very clearly what we want to be devolved to a regional level. Since the administration of EU funding was centralised, this has been a disaster with funding unspent and long delays in distributing the funding. This illustrates the importance of devolving powers to regional level.”

Brexit activity including Committee reports and consultation responses can be found on our website - https://www.highland.gov.uk/brexit

29 Nov 2018