Scottish salmon sector lobbies for more rural housing

Published on
September 6, 2022
Salmon Scotland Chief Executive Tavish Scott.

Trade body Salmon Scotland has called for greater investment in rural housing.

Housing prices have risen more in Scotland's highlands and islands than across the whole of Scotland over the past two decades, Salmon Scotland said. It urged an overhaul of the current taxation system so the millions of pounds sent paid by the country's salmon farmers are ringfenced for investment in coastal areas.

Salmon Scotland said Scotland’s “cluttered licensing regime” and rent hikes mean that more than GBP 20 million (USD 23.1 million, EUR 23.1 million) is paid by salmon farmers annually to various regulators and quangos. It is calling for around GBP 10 million (USD 11.6 million, EUR 11.6 million) of the revenue to be reinvested in rural communities, with a particular focus on housing.

“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,” Salmon Scotland Chief Executive Tavish Scott said. “There is an opportunity in the Program 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.”

In response, Crown Estate Scotland, the public corporation of the Scottish government responsible for the management of land and property in Scotland, said salmon companies are paying fees to rent the space they're using – and that it's up to the Scottish government to decide how funds are spent. 

“The seabed is a shared, public space and, like many multinational businesses, salmon farmers pay to use it for their commercial purposes," it said. "Crown Estate Scotland then passes profits to the Scottish government and ministers to decide how that money is used.”

It said from 2017 to 2021, over GBP 28 million (USD 32.4 million, EUR 32.4 million) from Crown Estate Scotland was passed by Scottish government to coastal local authorities to support projects that included COVID-19 recovery, economic regeneration, and job creation.

According to Salmon Scotland, more than 2,500 people are directly employed in salmon farming throughout Scotland, with an estimated 10,000 jobs dependent on the sector.

Photo courtesy of the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organization

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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