John has welcomed the announcement made by First Minister Alex Salmond, during the First Minister’s Questions yesterday, Thursday 28 February, that the decision to grant South Ayshire Stalking a ten-year lease to manage shooting and fishing rights, on Raasay, has been withdrawn.
The move follows strong criticism by MSPs and the Scottish Crofting Federation. It was argued that Raasay Crofters’ Association should retain the rights it had managed for 18 years. The local association was out-bid by in the tendering process following the end of the lease in November 2012.
John had given his support to Independent MSP Jean Urquhart who lodged a motion expressing concern at a loss of local control and community involvement.The First Minister finally revealed the crofters’ lease would be extended for another year.
Commenting on the announcement John said:
“I was delighted to hear that Raasay crofters will be allowed to carry on their previous success. These 11 crofters have been a real boon for the local island community. Through their stewardship of the sporting rights momentum was given to the local economy.
“I was particularly concerned by the fact that the decision to transfer the rights from the crofters to the Girvan-based firm was made by unelected officials and clearly went contrary to the Government’s commitments to land reform.
“I hope the meeting between the crofters and Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse on Friday will be the first of many occasions to discuss longer-term options for the betterment of Raasay. I also welcome the minister’s statement that appropriate ministerial consideration will be given when such decisions are being made in the future.”