Salmon industry repeats call for rural housing investment

Salmon industry repeats call for rural housing investment

Tavish Scott, chief executive of Salmon Scotland

Scotland’s salmon farmers have repeated calls for greater investment in rural housing to ensure workers in the industry are not priced out of communities.

Ahead of the publication of the Scottish Government’s spending plans this week, trade body Salmon Scotland, which represents salmon producers and their supply chain, wants £10 million that the sector will soon be paying in increased site rents to be ringfenced to provide affordable housing in the Highlands and islands.

The organisation, which initially launched the campaign in June, said this new way of working would echo the system in Norway where rents are used to benefit local communities.

House prices have risen more in the Highlands and islands than across the whole of Scotland over the past two decades, raising fears that people and businesses are being forced out of the country’s most fragile communities, Salmon Scotland said.

It added that Scotland’s “cluttered” aquaculture licensing regime and rent hikes mean that more than £20m a year is due to be paid by salmon farmers to various regulators and agencies including Crown Estate Scotland, which collects fish farm site rents on behalf of the government.

Salmon Scotland chief executive Tavish Scott said: “The shortage of available, affordable housing in island and Highland communities is pricing people out of the housing market, and businesses are experiencing problems recruiting and retaining staff - leading to hard-to-fill vacancies, skills shortages, and depopulation.

“Long-term house price rises are being exacerbated by the cost-of-living crisis, and Scottish ministers should be looking at every lever available to them to make life easier for working people.

“The greatest economic contributor to these coastal communities is the Scottish salmon sector, directly providing 2,500 local jobs – and thousands more through the supply chain.

“We are proud of the jobs and wealth we create in rural Scotland, and we believe our local communities should be the ones who benefit the most.

“There is an opportunity in the Programme for Government for ministers to ensure the millions sent to quangos are put to better use by building affordable housing, ensuring the economic success generated by Scotland’s biggest food export is enjoyed by the communities where we operate.”

A spokesperson for Crown Estate Scotland said: “Crown Estate Scotland passes any profits to the Scottish Government and ministers decide how that money is used.”

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