The difficulties facing crofting in the 21st century will be on the agenda next week when the Rural Affairs and Environment Committee visits the Western Isles.
The committee will spend time in North and South Uist and Benbecula as part of a series of visits it is undertaking to different areas in Scotland as part of the scrutiny process of the Crofting Reform (Scotland) Bill.
On Monday, committee members will visit individual crofters, estate managers, and local businesses in the Uists and Benbecula before holding a public meeting at Sgoil Lionacleit at 7.30pm to provide local people with the opportunity to express views on the bill.
The following day, committee members will travel to Stornoway to take part in a major conference on the future of crofting organised by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.
Committee Convener Maureen Watt MSP said: “Nowhere has crofting been so essential in sustaining communities and preserving Scotland’s unique Gaelic culture as in the Western Isles.
It is therefore highly appropriate that it should be the first place the committee visits as we examine the Crofting Reform (Scotland) Bill.
“The bill has arisen from the recognition that there are challenges to the crofting way of life that need to be addressed – issues such as absenteeism, concerns over the effectiveness of the Crofters Commission, and the lack of availability of crofts to younger people.
“Everyone agrees there is a need for legal change if crofting communities are to have a vibrant future.
The question is whether the current bill does this in the best way or whether there are other approaches that would work better.
“The views of those involved in crofting matter hugely so we want to hear direct from those with an interest or involvement in crofting. We want to hear their suggestions about what is required to ensure crofting in Scotland has a healthy future.
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