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MSP calls on Highlanders to have their say as a new consultation on licensing AirBnB-style short-term lets is launched as many fear the tourist accommodation is depleting the available housing stock and driving depopulation

By Scott Maclennan

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Highland MSP and Finance Secretary Kate Forbes.
Highland MSP and Finance Secretary Kate Forbes.

Highlanders have been called on to take part in a consultation on rented holiday homes in the region, amid concerns locals are being priced out of the market by AirBnB style lets.

Finance secretary and Highland MSP Kate Forbes says it is essential that locals are heard and that any debate on the issue is based soundly on the facts.

The Scottish Govern-ment’s latest consultation on short-term lets is aimed at ensuring that local authorities have the necessary powers to balance the needs and concerns of their communities with wider economic and tourism interests.

The Highlands has been particularly hard hit by the boom in tourism-related holiday lets which typically makes more money than renting a property long-term, but also reduces local housing stock.

It is has been argued that the practice is contributing to a process of depopulation that is destroying many Highland communities.

A previous consultation attracted more than 1000 responses and in order to consider proposed legislation in more detail a stakeholder group was set up.

Their recommendations led to further refinements which are the basis of the new engagement.

Ms Forbes said: “Following the last round of consultation, when I was contacted by scores of constituents, I am well aware of the strength of feeling about the short-term lets debate.

“While it is a complex and multi-faceted problem with no easy answers, I hope that the debate centres around facts rather than unfounded fears.

“Furthermore, if we are serious about tackling the West Highland housing crisis, then I believe that this needs to be a much broader discussion than previously.”

She added: “I would encourage everyone with an interest to take the time to fully read the proposals and make their voice heard.”

Responses can only be submitted online, and interested parties have until August 13 to contribute.

Related story – Worries remain among Highland bed and breakfast operators on short-term lets law

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