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Our Man in Holyrood: New fund will help provide opportunities for women to upskill and boost the rural economy

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MSP Fergus Ewing.
MSP Fergus Ewing.

Inverness and Nairn MSP Fergus Ewing says women working in agriculture will benefit from £115,000 for practical training courses.

Last week, on International Women’s Day, I announced, as the rural minister, a financial package following the recent announcement of a parallel fund for women in the rural economy.

Women living or working in Scottish agriculture will benefit from £115,000 of funding for a wide range of practical training courses.

It offers training in other rural sectors such as aquaculture, forestry, horticulture and wildlife management. The latest six-figure package has been earmarked for development and upskilling as part of the Women in Agriculture Practical Training Fund.

Both funds are administered by Lantra Scotland and are open for applications now at https://bit.ly/3vfSAfR

I hope we have made rapid progress in supporting women to fulfil their potential and build their confidence in their capabilities, building on this government’s ground-breaking childcare commitments to address the practical challenges relating to transport, distance and the antisocial hours involved in some jobs.

We know that women are key contributors to our rural economy, in all walks of life. This can be particularly challenging, especially if you have caring responsibilities, trying to develop a business, go to work and look after your family – often in remote or isolated areas.

Scottish ministers have given the go-ahead to completing the statutory procedures for four more schemes on the A9 Dualling Perth to Inverness project.

The work to prepare made orders for these four schemes, totalling over 3km, is well under way, with publication expected over the coming months.

We also expect public local inquiry reports to be submitted to Scottish ministers for a further three schemes in the coming months. Subject to positive decisions from the public local inquiry process on these three schemes, this would pave the way for completing the statutory processes for approximately 92 per cent of the programme.

This government remains committed to dualling the A9 between Perth and Inverness, one of the biggest transport infrastructure projects in Scotland’s history, and we expect this process to conclude in the summer.

Meantime, the Tory desire is to use all our budget for every year for about a decade on a bridge to Northern Ireland. Some experts have suggested
£15 billion might be required for the project, but others have said that £20 billion would be a “conservative estimate”.

I think this would be a bridge too far!

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