Citizens' forums, and attitudes to agriculture, environment and rural priorities: research report

Results of an independent study into Scottish public attitudes to the environment, agriculture and rural development.

Appendix A: Literature and Evidence Review


The Common Agricultural Policy (hereafter CAP) is the core agricultural policy in Scotland, covering three broad areas: agriculture, the environment, and rural development. Primarily the policy is designed to supplement the incomes of farmers to ensure that there is a safe, affordable and consistent supply of high-quality food throughout the European Union[29]. To this effect the policy is organised into two ''Pillars''; the first Pillar receives the vast proportion of spending and involves a payment to farmers for every hectare of land they farm. The amount of money individual farmers receive is based on the size of their farm and the productivity of its land. The remainder of the spending falls under Pillar 2 and is spent to meet wider rural development goals such as improving innovation, public services, and supporting local development projects, and a small share of spending is also allocated to agri-environment policies covering organic farming, tree-planting, and forestry.

Currently, the CAP is subject to far-reaching reforms, including those scheduled for 2021-27 which will simplify and modernise the policy, in part through technological and digital innovation, but also by limiting its financing from the overall EU budget. Imminent withdrawal from the European Union, and by extension CAP, means that agricultural, environmental and rural development policies will need to be redesigned at a UK and Scotland level. Implications of withdrawal from CAP in terms of the potential impact on the income of farmers has been raised in research carried out by members of our team in the Highlands of Scotland since June 2016[30]. However, there are important implications to consider with respect to environmental and rural development policies which are also covered in the pan-European policy.

This literature and evidence review will explore each of these aspects in turn, reviewing academic and grey literature in the areas of agriculture, the environment and rural development complemented with public attitudes data where this is available in each of these contexts. In setting out these three broad areas, the review considers the implications of Brexit in informing priorities for future agriculture policy in Scotland.


Agricultural policy in Scotland is covered under the CAP, as outlined in the introductory statements, these primarily cover the basic support payments to farmers for their contribution to the production of public goods. The CAP has often been criticised in its contribution to surplus food production throughout Europe, so while there are key reforms scheduled to come into effect from 2021 onwards, some key changes were also implemented in the period of 2014-2020[31]; these were to ensure only genuinely active farmers receive Direct Payments under Pillar 1 funding, as well as implementing specific support for new entrants, and ensuring farmers implement environmental measures, such as protecting biodiversity and reducing emissions as part of the greening provisions. The argument for continuing direct payments to farmers in light of the over-production of food reinforces the concept that there is a public benefit conferred through farming and food production[32]. There is also the view that farmers respond to societal and consumer demands as opposed to other businesses[33] for example in terms of animal welfare, quality standards and environmental protection.

In withdrawing from the European Union there are key points of consideration for future Scottish agriculture policy, and indeed there are divergent views on whether CAP funding should be retained at current levels - especially considering the view that Pillar 1 funding (direct payments to farmers) is entitlement-based as opposed to Pillar 2 which is targeted, and contractual, serving a wider societal purpose. Reviewing Scottish policy documentation, the 'Agricultural Champions[34]' report suggests that a cultural shift/ or mindset change is required to conceive of the agricultural sector in line with any other industry which is subject to fluctuations in supply and demand and changing consumer preferences - underscoring the need to review spending priorities in the policy.

Dieter Helm[35] sets out three options for future agriculture policy in the UK:

1. continuity of the current regime with an emphasis on food security;

2. maintaining the CAP, but shifting more of the subsidies away from payments for land ownership towards more spending on environmental schemes;

3. providing public money only for public goods - this would only be possible by allowing a transitional phase allowing all parties to adapt to the changed circumstances.

In recognising these three options, Helm makes the case for the third option, namely public money for public goods, using the UK Government's 25-year environmental plan as the overarching framework to guide the policy. Helm places an emphasis on prioritising Pillar 1 payments to support farmers with a low income (smaller and marginal farms) and imposing stricter requirements on the types of activities that are supported including mandatory environmental protection practices. It is also suggested that a wider range of players who provide public benefits e.g. those who work to protect the landscape and biodiversity, should also be supported under the policy - not just farmers.

This view is reflected in the European Union Committee, House of Lords 2016 report "Responding to price volatility: creating a more resilient agricultural sector"[36] which makes the case for continued financial support as follows:

"Given that the agricultural sector is often expected to provide public goods, there is a case for financial support in certain circumstances. However, policy should display much more explicit links between the expected outcomes and the use of public funds."

This suggests that there is appetite for continued funding for the sector reinforcing the concept of "public goods", but there is still the issue of whether this funding should be redirected in a targeted manner with a clearer explication on what the money is for.

It is conceived that the aim of future agriculture policy should be to deliver maximum social value this places an emphasis on environmental matters but also on wider rural development objectives. Ian Hodge, Professor of Rural Economy at the University of Cambridge, argues that

"We do not really need an agricultural policy; we need an ecosystem services policy. We need to set out thinking that our aim should be to deliver the maximum social value from rural land rather than to recreate an agricultural policy"[37].

This suggests that a potential option would be to shift away from the current focus on agriculture and take a holistic view of the totality of ecosystem services encapsulating services that protect the natural environment, biodiversity, soil, landscape, cultural heritage, and provide food, sustainable energy, and water.

It must be noted that under WTO rules the support provided to farmers who deliver ecosystem services in this context only covers costs incurred so this would not help to support the underlying business or supplement farmers' incomes. Therefore, such a policy signals a departure from the subsidies regime. Important considerations need to be made to evaluate whether subsidies should be maintained. For instance, certain payments are tied to the implementation of environmental measures as per the greening provisions; respect should also be paid to the "polluter pays principle", and whether farmers should really need incentives to implement environmental protection measures as is under the current CAP policy in Scotland or whether this should be a baseline requirement of any future farming practices. Consideration should also be given to rural development in terms of social value within the wider scheme of the policy.

Nonetheless, it is important to contextualise the linkages between agriculture and the

environment in Scotland; and consider how farming might help to advance environmental goals. While there is the issue of potential environmental damage from farming practices, the environment could also be strengthened by agriculture management in the following respects[38]:

  • Biodiversity - certain species and habitats that are of high conservation value are reliant on the continuation of farming practices. Therefore, withdrawing agricultural production may not always be the answer to conserving biodiversity. Biodiversity may be supported through farming practices which have helped to shape the Scottish landscape, and the variety of species and habitat; maintaining this will require management of the intensity of agricultural production.
  • Water - farming practices can help to increase water quality by reducing diffuse pollution from farming waste, and by helping to prevent floods. Agricultural management can help to ensure water is used sufficiently to photosynthesise plants and to allow animals to drink water.
  • Landscape - 70% of Scotland's land is managed by farmers, and farming practices have contributed to the upland and lowland landscapes of Scotland. Mixed farming practices contribute to increased biodiversity of species and habitats, and the aestheticism of the landscapes that we value.
  • Soil - fertile carefully managed nutrient content of soil is the bedrock of good faming and crop management, but also encourages a range of plant and animal life.

Points of consideration for future policy

Before reviewing points of consideration following the UK's exit from the European Union, the review explores policy in an international context, drawing on examples from Canada and New Zealand. While these may provide examples of different policy options, it should be borne in mind that the domestic context of each of these countries differs from the UK/Scotland, as well as the agriculture sectors in each setting.

Policy example from Canada

One example of a targeted agricultural support policy is the Canadian Agricultural Policy Approach[39], this incorporates a number of targeted measures including investment in funding for internships for graduates to study the environmental impacts of agriculture and providing employers with funding for internships in agriculture and veterinary medicine. Additional means of targeted support cover protections against a decline in farmers' incomes by providing cash advance payments on agricultural production; and the availability of loans to help new small farmers. Moreover, the total range of initiatives are not just directed towards farmers but include cooperatives, not-for-profit organisations and academic institutions. The design of the policy is largely in part due to the decline in the number of farms in Canada in recent years, and the demographic challenge faced by the sector as the vast proportion of farmers are aged 55 and over and many do not have someone lined up to take over their farms.

There are key differences between the UK and Canadian agricultural system which should be considered when reviewing the Canadian policy framework.

Policy example from New Zealand

In New Zealand farming subsidies have been phased out since 1984; it is one of the few countries in the OECD to remove support payments to farmers. This has led to higher levels of productivity - total productivity level growth increased from 1.5% per annum to 2.5% between 1984 and 2001[40]. The removal of the subsidy has also had the effect of lowering surplus production and encouraging growth in other parts of the economy. The agricultural sectors contribution to the economy in terms of GDP has decreased from 14.6% to 5.2% between 1960 and 1999 - which is similar to UK levels while the economy industrialises and diversifies. However, production levels have remained consistent, while the contribution share has decreased. There is a minimum level of support provided to farmers in the form of "farm recovery insurance" in adverse situations such as natural disasters.

The New Zealand model shows that the agricultural markets do have the potential to adjust to different systems of payments, and that farmers do not bear the total costs of the reform - however it should be borne in mind that this policy was implemented 35 years ago, in an entirely different domestic context. While, the New Zealand example shows that there was an immediate drop in the income of farmers, there is evidence to show that income had adjusted within the next five years or so for some sectors such as sheep/dairy farmers - largely in part due to the devaluation of the New Zealand dollar boosting the competitiveness of exports. Moreover, areas that had historically been reliant on the farming sector had seen population decline which resulted in a lack of service provision in these areas - therefore, any changes to the agricultural sectors should be offset with a redirection of support to rural communities.

There are key differences between the UK and New Zealand agricultural system which should be considered when reviewing the policy framework in New Zealand

In considering the discourse around priorities for future agricultural policy, there are a number of practical challenges to consider, including, the budget available for future agricultural policy in Scotland; Scotland's ability to implement divergent policies to the rest of the UK; the matter of trade relationships outside of the UK; and importantly the agricultural sectors dependence on non-UK EU workers and the implications of this for future workforce.

In withdrawing from the European Union, the United Kingdom will take back agricultural competency as part of the Great Repeal Bill and will allow devolved governments to tailor aspects of the policy depending on their domestic context. In this context, there are grey areas with respect to the spending allocated to agriculture policy within the devolved governments. For instance, the 2016 Scottish Budget indicates that income from the European Union in relation to agriculture was approximately £490 million in 2016/17. Pertinently, agricultural payments are relatively large in Scotland as compared to rest of UK. According to the Treasury's Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses, expenditure on agriculture and related functions in Scotland is 17.6%[41] of the UK total spend in this area, more than double Scotland's population share. The implications of this surround the fiscal arrangements with the rest of the UK - given that Scotland has proportionately more spending on agriculture and related functions, if the Barnett formula were applied to calculate future agricultural spending allocations to Scotland (which enables asymmetry in spending with England and adjusts the amount with the population share in other parts of the UK) Scotland would see the relative spending share decline from current levels.

Indeed, there are also points to consider in terms of the level of flexibility attributed to devolved governments to tailor individual aspects of policy. Indeed, policy divergence can inhibit an overall framework which may create internal barriers to trade and affect market prices. However, the current framework allows tailoring to accommodate the circumstances, priorities and needs of devolved settings.

Another complex area is the trade of agriculture products post-Brexit. The agricultural sector is already experiencing increased costs as a result of the weakness of the pound, and if trade deals with other countries take significant time or cannot be forged, further costs would be incurred through the application of World Trade Organisation rules. To illustrate this point, farmers in Scotland might face increased costs with sheep farms facing a 30% increase tariff on exports; beef farms facing a 50% increase tariff on exports and dairy farms facing a 36% increase tariff on exports[42]. Further complications arise with respect to product and environmental standards which would need to be harmonised to ensure compliance with food standard and safety regulations required for trade with the EU (Scotland's second key trading partner after the Rest of the UK).

In addition, trade relationships with countries outside the EU could lead to increased competition from countries with lower food standards, animal welfare standards and environmental protection regulations - as well as poorer products flooding the Scottish market. For example, concerns have been expressed around the potential impact of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership enabling the thoroughfare of lower quality agricultural produce entering the Scottish market and affecting the competitiveness of local produce.

Import quotas should also be considered when thinking about trade, the tariff rate quota on agriculture can be anywhere up to 54% for imported agricultural products to the EU. This is important to note when recognising that, for instance, 95% of lamb exports from the UK go to the EU[43]. An arrangement would have to be forged with the EU to ensure lower tariff rate quotas. For instance, New Zealand's import cost to the EU is at 0% up to a specific amount of produce[44]. Therefore, it would be important to consider the UK's future arrangement with the EU. It will also be important to bear in mind how others (countries outside the UK) regard changes to the import quotas between the UK and the EU, especially given that the UK wants to forge deals with other countries and the EU may also have separate arrangements with other countries.

The sector's dependence on non-UK EU workers should also be borne in mind. The Scottish Government's response to the Call for Evidence on the EEA Workers in the UK Labour Market, identifies horticulture as one of the main industries that will be affected by changes to the free movement of people from EEA countries. In particular, the response identifies the reliance on seasonal EEA workers; SRUC research carried out on behalf of the Scottish Government conservatively estimates around 9,250 seasonal migrant workers were being used on Scottish farms in 2017.

Regardless of any changes to the flow of non-UK EU workers to Scotland, there are pre-existing recruitment challenges which stand to be exacerbated by changes in the free movement of people. This is reflected in work that members of our team undertook for Highlands and Islands Enterprise; in 2016 two-thirds (65%) of businesses in the Highlands and Islands had found it difficult to recruit people with the skills and experience they needed. Among those who had found it difficult to recruit, key issues raised included a lack of suitably qualified people, barriers due to location in remote island communities, and dependency on non-UK EU workers who are returning home due to uncertainties concerning their residency status[45]. Other data sources reflect these findings, for instance, in the red meat sector, around 50% of staff and 95% of official vets in the processing plants are non-UK nationals[46].

What does the public attitudes data tell us?

The public attitudes data is split in two broad areas: food and diet; and agriculture, and attitudes to the CAP.

Food and diet

The Food Standards Scotland Consumer tracker survey collects significant data in terms of attitudes to food, diet, and safety. The survey has shown that there is an increase in concern over unhealthy diets, and food prices, particularly among young people and C2DEs. Moreover, there is a common view that food prices will increase after Brexit and that food safety standards may decline post-Brexit - results which may feed into concerns around food security, more generally. Reflecting these findings, most think that Brexit will negatively impact on food issues - although these have been persistent at each wave of the survey, with the exception of food safety which has increased from 18% to 23% between 2016 and 2018.

Half of respondents to the survey expressed interest in the country of origin when making food purchases and a similar proportion were interested in food authenticity. Top food concerns include animal welfare (81%); use of pesticides, hormones, steroids (80%); food prices (78%); food poisoning (75%).

Just over half persistently categorise their diet as "healthy". The groups that persistently perceive their diets to be healthy are women and those in the ABC1 social grade category. Having said that there is growing acceptance that people need to eat more healthily, and this is reflected in concern regarding the sugar content in food and a vast majority regarding obesity as a serious issue in Scotland. In terms of addressing these issues there has been a slight increase in the view that the cost of food is a barrier to healthy eating.

Agriculture and CAP

Scotland's rural economy is often equated with "Agriculture, Fishing and Forestry". However, "Agriculture, Fishing and Forestry" only accounts for about 1%[47] of the overall Scottish economy. Even in rural Scotland, the sector is marginal compared to other sectors such as construction. Nonetheless, research carried out by Survation on behalf of the Scottish Environment Link[48] shows that 88% agree (strongly or somewhat) that farming is an important industry in Scotland. Given the perceived seminal importance of the farming industry in Scotland, it is perhaps unsurprising that 48% felt that farmers receive less than a fair share of money value for the food they produce.

Knowledge of the Common Agricultural Policy was split with a similar proportion stating that they have heard of the policy (52.6%) as those stating that they had not (47.4%). Among those who had heard of the policy, there was a high level of agreement (71.7%) that it was a system of support programmes for agriculture. By comparison, there was confusion around how much money we get from the CAP.

Among those who were aware of the CAP, there was broad support for payments to farmers being made on the basis of the amount and type of the land they farm: 47% support payments made to farmers comparative to 15.3% who oppose support payments. There were slightly higher levels of support for payments towards rural development, 62.6% support (strongly or somewhat) in comparison to 5.7% who oppose this form of support. Overall, there was the view that pillar 2 spending was a slightly better use of public money than pillar 1 (26.2% compared with 12.6%) although two-fifths (41.2%) did not discriminate and regarded both as equally good uses of public money. In terms of the funding split, there were mixed views with a similar proportion stating that it is fair (20.1%) as those who were neutral (23.5%) on the subject matter, although a slightly higher proportion felt that the distribution is unfair (34.3%).

In terms of control over spending on agriculture after Brexit, just over half (54.9%) felt that this should be with the Scottish Government, while just over a fifth felt that the responsibility should be shared among the UK and Scottish Governments.

There were mixed views on farmers with large areas and better-quality land receiving more support: 41% support, 26% neutral, and 26% oppose this proposal. Results concerning support for famers with less than three hectares of land were slightly more conclusive, 63% support funding for these groups, which is not currently in place under CAP.

Respondents were asked to consider where spending from agriculture policy should be allocated, results are shown in the table below. The data reflects broad support for each area, however there were some messages in terms of appetite for the redirection of support towards improving services, and opportunities as well as public benefits instead of focusing on income support for farmers.

Statement Support (%) Neutral (%) Oppose (%) DK (%)
On helping provide more local food in schools and hospitals 79.2 13.7 2.6 4.4
On encouraging animal welfare standards and the production of high-quality animal products - including more free-range farming of pigs, chickens, dairy cows and cattle cows 78.5 13.1 3.1 5.1
On creating opportunities for young people in farming 77.9 15.6 2.0 4.4
On helping farmers sell more food in local shops and markets 77.3 14.7 3.7 4.2
On reducing pollution from farms 76.5 14.7 3.8 5.0
On helping improve the skills and knowledge of farmers and providing training 72.4 17.8 4.2 5.5
Farmers and land managers deliver wider public benefits such as protecting biodiversity, limiting farms' greenhouse gas emissions, improving water quality and enhancing opportunities for recreation 69.8 19.0 4.6 6.6
On income support - to bring farmers up to a minimum level of income 66.7 19.7 6.9 6.7
On discouraging the use of pesticides and antibiotics on farms and encouraging ''organic'' farming practices 66.3 22.0 6.2 5.5
Farmers with the least productive land, with farms whose land is less productive and more difficult to farm receiving higher payments 54.4 27.9 9.6 8.1
Farmers with the most productive land, with more productive farms receiving higher payments per hectare farmed 40.6 27.7 23.8 7.9

Furthermore, the Eurobarometer polling into UK-wide public attitudes towards the CAP[49] has a number of pertinent results to bear in mind. The survey invites respondents to reflect on the importance of the respective CAP priorities which is informative in evaluating how the public attribute weight to each of the elements of the policy.

CAP priority (%) Important EU (%) Important UK
Strengthening the role of farmers in the food chain 88 80
Developing research and innovation to support the agri-food sector 84 76
Encouraging young people to enter the agricultural sector 84 78

Sixty-one percent overall (across all EU Member states) think that CAP benefits all EU Citizens'' not only farmers, compared to 50% in the UK. 42% in the UK want to see financial support to farmers increase over the next ten years. The majority agreed that it is justified that financial support is tied with compliance to food safety, animal welfare, and environmental standards.

Aside from quantitative research in this area, there has been qualitative research[50] exploring the role of women in agriculture which is worth mentioning as it cuts into findings around support for new entrants to the sector. The agriculture census 2018, shows that only 17% of farm and croft occupiers are female.

A key impetus for the research was the underrepresentation of women in farming organisations, and the limited known information on women's roles in farms. The research evidenced that women are involved in all aspects of farming activities and consequently 90% viewed their role on farms as very important. The main barriers to advancing women's roles on farms were lack of time (72%), the need to prioritise childcare (54%), lack of financial resources (52%), lack of opportunities (46%) and perceived lack of skills (46%). Nonetheless, the cultural practice of passing on large farms intact to farmers' sons was seen to inhibit women's entry into the field of agriculture. In terms of the underrepresentation of women in farming organisations, the research evidenced a number of key factors; importantly, lack of time (26%) and perceived lack of skills (23%) were mentioned. However, the qualitative research evidenced exclusionary practices and discrimination towards women being involved in leadership/board level positions - which in turn made women reticent to take up these positions.

Research undertaken by the James Hutton Institute[51] for the Scottish Land Commission identifies that women and new entrants to the agricultural sector may be key to modernising and driving improvements to the sector as they offer entrepreneurialism, and a different knowledge and skill set from their previous education and employment backgrounds.


Aspects of Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 of the CAP focus on environmental protection to minimise the risk of environmental degradation through agricultural practices and advance action on climate change.

There are three priority areas for the environmental aspects of the policy:

1. protecting and enhancing biodiversity and 'natural' farming and forestry systems, and landscapes,

2. water management and use,

3. action on climate change.[52]

Under Pillar 1, environmental protections are advanced through greening provisions which require farmers to adopt practices that benefit the environment and the climate in return for receiving area-based direct payments. Additional payments are made for the adoption of non-compulsory measures that protect the environment as it is felt that the market prices for the agriculture produce in itself do not compensate or incentivise farmers for adopting these practices. With regard to Pillar 2, there are funds available for bespoke agri-environment schemes in each member state and forestry grant schemes. In thinking about priorities for CAP after 2020[53], there is a commitment to advancing environmental protection by placing environmental conditionalities on the receipt of all direct payments encompassing preserving carbon-rich soils, using nutrient management tools, and using crop rotation practices. Furthermore, there is a commitment to reward farmers who go beyond the mandatory environmental protection measures through further support mechanisms.

In Scotland, the commitment to advancing environmental protection is expressed in the National Performance Framework, with an outcome to this effect: We value, enjoy, protect and enhance our environment. There is also a suggestion that the Human Rights Framework for Scotland should include a right to a healthy environment. The Scottish Government has set ambitious targets for addressing climate change and is proposing net zero greenhouse gas emission zone by 2045 in the Climate Change Bill.

In implementing these ambitious targets, the role of Scottish agriculture is paramount - around 73% of Scotland's land area is designated as agricultural. Agriculture also contributes to the decarbonisation of Scotland's energy sector through the production of renewable energy. The agriculture sector has decreased emissions by 25.8% between 1990 and 2015[54]. This decrease has resulted from efficiencies in farming, fewer sheep, a reduction in the use of nitrogen fertiliser, and a reduction in ploughed grassland. Recognising that greenhouse gas emissions are inherent in food production processes it is important to balance food security and reducing emissions, particularly in a post-Brexit Scotland. The Government is already engaging farmers through the "Farming for a better climate" policy to identify practical ways to help farmers adapt their practices in line with actions to address climate change. In so doing, the Scottish Government recognises that engagement with farmers, and the public, is critical to achieving its ambition for a low carbon society and to meet its climate change targets.

Underpinning the range of environmental policies is soil protection which is pertinent for sustainable forestry and agriculture in Scotland - these are also important for meeting the full potential of Scotland's biodiversity and minimising the issue of poor soil quality[55] which impact these individual sectors. Policy with regard to soil protection is fragmented and relate to the individual sectors which are impacted by soil quality e.g. environment, agriculture, forestry. The Scottish Soil Protection Framework aims to consolidate policy on soil protection as it cuts into so many diverse sectors. Within this, there is a recognition of the role of Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), in consolidating policy on soil protection as part of its environmental protection function. Moreover, the framework deploys a partnership approach working with a range of agencies such as SEPA, Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission of Scotland, Historic Scotland and land managers and researchers.

An aspect of the environmental protections aspect of the CAP also contributes to forestry which is important as Scotland is transitioning to complete devolution of forestry. There is a draft strategy[56] being prepared in line with the Forestry and Land Management Act 2018, the aims of which are threefold; to increase the contribution of forests and woodlands to Scotland's sustainable and inclusive growth strategy (this is important as forestry has been estimated to support around 26,000 jobs, and £954m of gross value added); protect and enhance Scotland's natural assets; and to use Scotland's forest and woodlands to improve the health and wellbeing of the populace.

The Forestry Grant Scheme which is partly covered through Pillar 2 of the CAP, will provide around £252 million[57] between 2014-2020 which is required to help Scotland meet its forestry targets e.g. creation of 100,00 hectares of new woodland in the next ten years. The withdrawal from the EU and by extension the CAP will have important implications for the continued funding for the sector. An area which future policy should consider is that the CAP creates competing outcomes in relation to forestry by funding farmers for agricultural produce; therefore, there is little incentive to create woodland on land which is suitable for agriculture. Future policy will need to balance priorities with regards to forestry and agriculture in terms of land use.

What does the public attitudes data tell us?

Data on environmental attitudes in Scotland is limited given that the last comprehensive public attitudes data was Scottish Environmental Attitudes and Behaviour Survey was carried out in 2008. However, there are some measures within the Scottish Household Survey to collect public opinion data on the subject matter covering perceptions of climate change; recycling behaviours and use of greenspace. Each of these elements of the data is explored in turn. Importantly the proportion of Scottish adults that view climate change as an immediate problem has increased by a third between 2013 and 2017.

2013 (%) 2014 (%) 2015 (%) 2016 (%) 2017 (%)
Climate change is an immediate and urgent problem 46 45 50 55 61
Climate change is more of a problem for the future 25 26 23 23 18
Climate change is not really a problem 7 8 7 6 5
I'm still not convinced that climate change is happening 13 11 11 9 8
No answer 3 3 3 2 1
Don't know 7 6 7 6 7
Base 9,920 9,800 3,100 3,150 3,160

There are also various attitudinal questions covered in the 2017 survey which explore perceptions of the responsibility for tackling climate change. Pertinently, 67% disagree with the following statement: "It's not worth me doing things to help protect the environment if others don't do the same". In a similar vein, almost six-in-ten (59%) disagree that "I don't believe my behaviour and lifestyle contribute to climate change". Reflecting these findings, three quarters (74%) agree that "I understand what actions people like myself should take to tackle climate change".

In terms of waste recycling behaviours[58] the survey explores methods of disposing food waste: overall 55% dispose of waste using local authority provided caddy or other receptacles; 48% dispose of general waste with other rubbish; and 9% use home composting. Four-in-five households reported that they recycle materials such as paper, card, glass, food and drink cans/tins and plastic bottles/tubs. The research found that there was a relationship between deprivation and recycling behaviours with the least deprived households most likely to recycle comparative to those in the most deprived households.

The use of local greenspace is an important measure as it impacts quality of life and wellbeing: 52% had visited the Scottish outdoors at least once a week and 37% reported visiting their nearest greenspace several times a week. More generally research into the use of greenspace, and Scotland's abundant water supply evidences the national pride attached to Scotland's natural environment and resources.

Deliberative research into water policy in Scotland[59], reinforces the sense of national pride felt by the public in terms of its view as a vital natural asset and is complementary to Scotland's hydro-nation strategy. Nonetheless, the research also identified pesticides and fertiliser as possible sources of water contamination. Some participants felt that the risks were likely high and that farmers were not sufficiently accountable for the manner in which they used and disposed of pesticides and fertiliser, others argued that farming was in fact tightly regulated, and fertiliser was a "controlled substance", so there was little cause to be concerned about this potential source of contamination. Having said that, there is legislation that sets out that those who uses pesticides professionally must have received adequate training in using pesticides safely and be skilled in the job they are carrying out.

Rural development

CAP funding is directed towards rural development as part of the Pillar 2 funding and incorporates EU and Scottish Government funding. The policy allows member states to deploy personalised rural development strategies.

There are a number of funding streams to advance rural development objectives such as Horizon 2020, and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). This support is implemented in Scotland through the Scottish Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 which focuses on the following key areas: enhancing the rural economy; supporting agricultural and forestry businesses; protecting and improving the natural environment; addressing the impact of climate change; and supporting rural communities. The key aim of this policy is to achieve sustainable economic growth in rural areas. There are a number of aspects to the Scottish Rural Development Programme which makes use of the European funds, including programmes such as LEADER (case studies of which are shown below), as well as the Knowledge Transfer Innovation Fund which strengthens support for research and innovation and sharing ways of improving working practices, and the Environmental Cooperation Fund which enables land managers to work collaboratively to deliver environmental projects.

These programmes support the resilience of remote and rural communities to economic, environmental and social challenges like outward migration, demographic change and reduced public service provision. This area of current policy cuts into the research papers discussed in section 1 on future policy design delivering maximum social value by focusing not just on agricultural support but also environmental and rural development projects.

The ethos of rural development is summarised in this European commission report from 1996:

"rural development policy must follow the principle of subsidiarity. It must be as decentralised as possible and based on partnership and co-operation between all levels concerned (local, regional, national and European). The emphasis must be on participation and a 'bottom-up' approach which harnesses the creativity and solidarity of rural communities."

Taking LEADER as an example, there are key distinctive characteristics of this policy, specifically, a focus on endogenous socio-economic development, a bottom-up approach; area based local strategies; and a partnership-based approach. Ray 2000[60] recognises that the funding attributed to LEADER is minimal which hampers its ability to affect hard outcomes, in the period of 2014-2020, the policy accounted for 7%[61] of the Scottish Rural Development Programme. Therefore, there is a recognition that outcomes of the scheme are not economically substantive but contribute to a humanistic view of development - promoting the resilience, personal growth, cultural identity and confidence of communities. This is reflected in the aims of LEADER, that are to increase support to local rural communities and businesses to build knowledge and skills and encourage innovation and cooperation. These projects focus on delivering community action on climate change; enhancing rural services including transport initiatives; enhancing and preserving cultural heritage; promoting tourism and leisure; supporting food and drink initiatives; building co-operation with local organisations; and exchanging learning and knowledge across Europe.

There are a number of examples of how LEADER is being used to develop projects in Scotland. For example, in the Highlands, there is a Landscape Partnership Scheme to conserve the Applecross area[62] which has its own distinctive cultural heritage with many features of its heritage identified as under threat. The Applecross Landscape Partnership Scheme identified a demand for projects to conserve its heritage resources, and to develop sustainable tourism in the area as a means to stimulate the local economy. The work of the partnership scheme has helped to develop a natural heritage audit to aid conservation activity, a development plan to identify opportunities for sustainable tourism in the area, a training programme to enhance awareness of the distinct assets of the area, and a landscape strategy linking tourism to employment opportunities.

Another example is funding provided through LEADER to support Community Led Growth[63] through the employment of Local Development Officers across various areas in the Highlands and Islands. The local development officers, 48 in total, were employed to work on projects identified by the communities themselves. The funding to employ the local development officers was made through Highlands and Islands Enterprise which helped to simplify the process for the communities rather than making separate funding claims. Being part of a wider programme enabled communities, and the local development officers to feel part of a network, even though they were often geographically dispersed.

The approaches used through the LEADER programme, and other initiatives towards rural development raise important points about partnership approaches involving a multitude of organisations and being led by local action groups. There is a balance to be achieved in terms of delivering a "bottom-up" approach through grassroots involvement and establishing clear lines of communication/ involvement/ engagement[64] with local and central government. This is important as local and central government can learn from the policies implemented through local projects and address some of the larger questions raised by some of these projects which are beyond the capacity of rural areas to address, not least with respect to the limited funds available for these initiatives.

There is also discussion of the balance between social and economic outcomes from rural development initiatives - and if social and civic goals are prioritised if there is a commitment to view them as a progression to economic development goals. This may also require additional investment for regeneration and job creation in these areas.[65] An evaluation of rural development projects in Scotland 1996, found that there was either a focus on job creation, and business enterprise or on health, youth, and the environment - thus there was a view that projects focussing on both of these areas should be considered in policy design. Some of the examples of recent LEADER projects focus on sustainable tourism as a means of stimulating the economy.

At a wider strategic level, the European Union Rural Review[66] points out that digital and social innovation is a key priority for rural development - a key challenge for this will be the issue of broadband connectivity and digital infrastructure. Atterton et al. 2018[67] point out that alternatives to EU funding in the area of digital connectivity is imperative to ensure equity between urban and rural areas; indeed, there are key gains to be made in terms of service provision such as e-Health developments which would benefit remote rural communities.

Moreover, there is a view that rural development should be coupled with research and innovation policy to increase the knowledge base in rural areas. There is also the concept of "smart villages" which is a purposive tool in thinking about rural development:

"Rural areas and communities which build on their existing strengths and assets as well as new opportunities to develop added value and where traditional and new networks are enhanced by means of digital communications technologies"

The concept recognises the local knowledge and personal resilience of local communities and seeks to enhance them through wider links to research and innovation - this is achieved through local people coming together to develop a strategy around local assets and aspirations.

After 2020, there are reforms to the CAP which will affect rural development support; importantly, in communications there is a reorientation towards sustainable development with priority given to programmes in areas such as clean energy, the emerging bio-economy, the circular economy and eco-tourism.

It is unclear where future funding will be redirected - however, there are key lessons from the resilience of rural communities which are informative in considering rural development. Sustainability again is a key theme. Research shows that community land estates such as the Galson Estate Trust[68] which came into community ownership through changes to legislation through Land Reform Act and Community Right to buy, provide opportunities for rural communities to use land ownership and alternative energy generation to identify independent revenue streams and use these for local re-investment; these schemes, and others serve wider societal and economic benefits to the local population.

There are other pertinent examples of such community ownership, for example more than half the land area of the Western Isles is now in community ownership[69], through Scottish land reform, and the community is involved in discussions about plans for development in these areas. These schemes are pertinent in conceptualising sustainable communities characterised by local economic diversity; self-reliance; sustainable energy use; protection of natural resources; and commitment to social justice housing, employment, access to public services and local participation. These themes are useful in thinking about future priorities for rural development.

Future policy should also be cognisant of the changing rural economy, which is experiencing a lessening of the reliance on agriculture, which accounts for 3-4% of GVA in rural Scotland. There has been an increase in sectors such as Public Administration and Distribution, Wholesale and Retail, and Business Services, however, there are challenges related to lower wages in the sectors which dominate the rural economy e.g. public and service sectors, part-time and self-employment, and a higher prevalence of small businesses. Overall, in terms of the rural economy, there is a comparative gap in terms of labour productivity and gross domestic product per capita, than urban areas[70].

Bosworth and Atterton, 2012[71] cite business owners, especially those who are in-migrants, as an important source of rural economic development arguing that a mix of locally embedded and extra-local sources are needed to enable access to wider opportunities and knowledge as well as to support the exchange of these resources within rural networks. The research highlights the potential to augment local initiatives and enterprises through external assets, networks, knowledge and skills. An example of this is microbusinesses which are becoming increasingly important in rural economies as they help to diversify business sectors and help to off-set the decline of traditional primary sectors - the research shows that these businesses could be enhanced by external connections which also help to increase the demand for these businesses.

These findings can be contextualised in research carried out by Atterton 2007[72], exploring the social networks used by businesses in rural areas of Scotland. The research identified a strong reliance on local, familial networks for the supplier and consumer base for businesses, in contrast in-migrants were commonly seen to weaken these local connections. Having said that, business owners in Dingwall and Tain, covered in this research, had made connections in Inverness to make use of the economic growth in the city, however, they noted that this tended to make business relationships more formalised and contractual. These findings highlight the potential of making linkages between urban and rural sites in terms of stimulating business opportunities in both areas and point to the changes this will affect in terms of how business relationships are traditionally enacted in rural contexts.

Overall in thinking through future policy, Scotland needs to consider rural development in its own right as discussions are often dominated by the agricultural aspects of the prevailing CAP. It is important to consider ways in which rural development policy can be mainstreamed into wider growth strategies deployed by the Scottish Government, as opposed to being packaged as a subset of agricultural policy[73]. This is particularly important as rural development policy matters are cross-cutting and involve a number of ministerial portfolios covering health, education, the economy, in considering this wider focus attention should be paid to the potential of inclusive growth strategies which recognise the importance of developing rural infrastructure and connectivity through a place-based approach. Atterton et. al 2016 in considering key questions for the Scottish rural economy after Brexit, highlight the point that the rural economy covers a number of small businesses that risk being overlooked in future policy; and that growth strategies which help to grow these small businesses can provide a source of economic growth and employment in these areas.

The points raised about policy divergence and funding for this area of policy remain pertinent as discussed in the agriculture section of this review. An additional layer is unpacking what specific types of support are needed in the diverse context of remote rural Scotland. Support provided to these areas should be framed within the context of the array of public goods provided by rural areas covering drinking water, carbon storage, food production, renewable energy, biodiversity, climate change mitigation, forestry, and heritage and landscape.

What does the public attitudes data tell us?

Research has been carried out exploring attitudes to rural life, poignantly there is an idyllic public perception of rural communities. Research carried out in Northern Ireland has shown that there is a view that there is less crime in the countryside (66% agree that there is less crime); that there is more community spirit in the countryside (70% agree that there is more community spirit); and that the countryside is a better place to raise children (70% agree that it is a better place to raise children). These findings reinforce the view of the rural idyll; this is reflected in research carried out by Shucksmith et al, 2012[74] which found that there is a widespread view of rural areas as "idyllic places of peace, as repositories of national identity and yet also as backward areas in need of modernisation."

It is important to bear these results in mind when thinking about rural development in the public consciousness; and unpacking this idea of the rural idyll when considering evidence concerning rural social exclusion. Indeed, analysis of the Poverty and Social Exclusion survey 2012, has shown that while there are higher concentrations of poverty and material disadvantage in urban areas, there are some key factors of disadvantage experienced by those in remote rural areas. The analysis shows that more rural and remote areas have higher problems of access to services; higher prevalence of part-time work; and lower levels of social support[75].

Evidence around disparate access to services is found in the Scottish Household Survey which shows that there is some variation in perceptions of local services in urban and rural areas, although this is mainly attributed to dissatisfaction with transport services:

Large urban areas (%) Other urban areas (%) Accessible small towns (%) Remote small towns (%) Accessible rural (%) Remote rural (%)
Local health services 85 79 81 76 86 83
Local Schools 65 72 71 78 67 78
Public Transport 79 70 57 66 48 51

Having said that, the Scottish Household Survey also shows that those in accessible rural and remote rural locations are more likely than those in large urban and other urban areas to rate the place where they live as very/fairly good (70% and 76% respectively compared to 53% respectively).

Turning to attitudes to rural Scotland, there are a number of specific issues to consider depending on the scale of rurality e.g. for accessible rural areas there is the issue of inward migration/commuter towns which means that there is a lack of services and economic generation in these areas. Conversely, remote rural areas are often characterised by out-migration of young people, which consequently reduces labour and employment opportunities and there is the separate issue of transport[76] in these areas, which lead to their frequent categorisation as "fragile areas". These differences are important to bear in mind as opposed to conceptualising "rural" as a homogenous mass.

Research into a Minimum Income Standard for Remote Rural Scotland carried out by Highlands and Islands Enterprise[77] found that the additional costs of food in remote rural areas and the Islands of Scotland negatively impact rural communities. Higher food prices stem from the additional costs added by small-town supermarkets because of additional delivery costs and smaller volumes of purchase. The research identifies that everyday groceries cost around 10 per cent more at small-town supermarkets than in larger urban areas, and over 50 per cent more at convenience stores.

There are further issues of inequality to consider in the rural and agricultural contexts. Research shows that women living in Remote Rural Scotland have the lowest annual income of any group in Scotland, and the largest median gender pay gap, at £5,076[78]. In thinking about future rural development projects, consideration should be given to pre-development and capacity building to help mobilise and engage groups who may not be typically involved in community action processes, such as women, who are important in addressing some of these rural inequalities.

The Eurobarometer study on the Common Agriculture Policy, also covers aspects of rural development. The results show some improvement towards broadband internet coverage and mobile phone service; however limited progress on some of the other indicators.

Statement (%) Improved EU (%) Improved UK
Broadband internet coverage and mobile phone service 64 56
Access to social, health and cultural services 34 31
The participation of all individuals in social and economic life (social inclusion) 30 27
The environment and landscape 30 25
Economic growth and jobs 27 25

Picking up on broadband connectivity more generally, the most recent Scottish Household Survey 2017, has found that there is no statistically significant variation in internet use by urbanity/rurality.



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