Impact of coronavirus on rural economy and connectivity to be investigated by MSPs

The impact of Covid-19 on Scotland’s transport services and the rural economy is to be investigated by MSPs.

The Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee has issued a call for evidence on the Scottish Government’s response to the pandemic.

Views are sought on the impact of the emergency and the implications for public transport of easing the lockdown over the coming weeks and months.

The Committee will also explore how agriculture and fisheries in Scotland have been affected by the crisis and whether these sectors have received sufficient support to deal with the unprecedented challenges caused by Covid-19.

Individuals, businesses and other stakeholders are being invited to highlight specific issues and questions they would wish to be considered by the Committee.

Committee Convener, Edward Mountain MSP, said:

“The Covid-19 pandemic has changed our lives immeasurably in a relatively short period of time, but the impact on rural and island communities has been particularly acute.

“The economic effect of the emergency lockdown measures imposed to tackle the spread of the coronavirus has presented significant challenges for the farming, forestry and fishing industries.

“Remote communities which already suffer from poorer transport and digital infrastructure have been effectively cut off from their families and from accessing vital services. Significant adjustments will also be required across our public transport services as the lockdown is eased in the coming weeks and months and the safety of the travelling public is hugely important.

“The Committee wants to hear about the experiences of individuals and businesses and whether they feel they have received the support they need to survive and recover from this crisis.

“We also want to learn about examples of good practice as we consider what lessons can be learned about the response to the pandemic and also how existing practices may need to change as we move forward.”

Background

The Committee took evidence from the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity on the resilience of transport services and networks in Scotland during the current COVID-19 outbreak at its meeting on 18 March 2020.

The Committee subsequently took evidence from the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity and the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism on the impact of COVID-19 at a virtual meeting of the Committee on 13 May 2020.

The REC Committee plans to host further evidence sessions with ministers at future meetings as the Scottish Government’s response to the current COVID-19 emergency and the specific impacts on Scotland’s rural economy and connectivity continue to develop.