Scottish Rural Parliament
The Scottish Rural Parliament is organised by Scottish Rural Action (SRA) every two years, who aim to be a powerful voice for the people of rural Scotland. The Scottish Rural Parliament is a key event in the rural calendar, and contributes to the SRA aim of being a powerful voice for the people of rural Scotland. It is probably the largest gathering of rural activists in Scotland.
The creation of a Rural Parliament is a unique opportunity to enable a stronger, more coherent voice for Scotland’s rural communities. It is inspired by the successes of Rural Parliaments in other countries in Europe.
A successful Scottish Rural Parliament must be firmly rooted in Scotland’s rural communities, developed by and for the people who live and work in rural Scotland. We are supported, but independent of, Scottish Government.
What is a Rural Parliament?
A Rural Parliament is an event and a process that provides opportunities for people with an interest in rural communities to share ideas, consider issues and debate solutions. Rural Parliaments allow people and decision makers to work together on priority issues to develop new and creative solutions. They strengthen the voice of rural communities and help them to influence the decisions that affect them. Their success in Europe over the last 20 years has inspired us to initiate a Rural Parliament in Scotland.
When and where will it take place?
Rural Parliaments usually take place on a two year cycle, with the main Rural Parliament event taking place every second year and in a different location each time. In between the main events, there is a process of involvement and debate taking place in communities that helps to set the agenda for the next Rural Parliament.
The first national Rural Parliament took place on the 6th-8th November 2014 in Oban, and the second meeting of the Rural Parliament was held in Brechin, Angus from 6th-8th October 2016.
The next one will be held in November 2018.
Can I be a member of the Scottish Rural Parliament?
You can become a member of Scottish Rural Action which is the body responsible for the Scottish Rural Parliament. More details are available here: http://www.sra.scot
Members can be national organisations, community organisations (those with a local or regional remit) or individuals. Associate membership is also available for public bodies, juniors (under 16) and others. It is free to become a member.
Why does Scotland need one?
By bringing people together from across rural Scotland we are creating a unique opportunity for them to collaborate and to speak collectively to decision makers. This gives a stronger voice in shaping policy and influencing major decisions which affect Scotland’s rural communities.
At the moment rural affairs tend to be dealt with according to the geographic area e.g. Highlands, or the public policy area e.g. health, they seem best to fit with. Bringing these geographic and policy areas together gives us a chance to have a fresh look at how we can develop creative solutions to the challenges that are common across rural Scotland.
The Rural Parliament is a form of participative democracy which brings people together on an interest basis and encourages detailed consideration of issues. This is complementary to representative democracy where people vote for a person or political party to represent them.
Rural Parliaments have been successful in other parts of Europe and there is now a European Rural Parliament which the Scottish Rural Parliament will be able to work with, giving rural Scotland a stronger voice at a European level too.
How do you know it will make any difference?
We know that Rural Parliaments have been successful in other parts of Europe. We know that the Scottish Government wants to listen and they are the primary funder of the project. However, it is up to us, as people who live in and have an interest in rural Scotland, to make the Rural Parliament successful by participating as fully as we are able to.
How many people live in rural Scotland?
Around one million people which is approximately 20% of the population of Scotland. Around 95% of the Scotland’s land mass is rural.