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Critical time for rural Scotland

New era for Scottish Land & Estates with first female CEO

Sarah-Jane Laing has become the first female chief executive of Scottish Land & Estates, the rural business organisation, as it enters the most challenging era in its 110-year history.

Ms Laing has steadily climbed the ranks at the rural business organisation over the past 15 years, starting out as housing strategy officer before moving to the role of head of policy and most recently executive director.

Ms Laing is tasked with influencing the new UK Government on Brexit issues that will affect Scotland. This includes  establishing a new scheme to support the seasonal and permanent non-UK workforce rural Scotland relies on, to ensure communities are provided with the much-needed stability and support they need.

At Holyrood, her focus will be on addressing climate change, increasing the supply of quality, affordable rural homes and developing a post-Brexit land-use policy which delivers resilient businesses and thriving rural communities as well as increased environmental resilience and wider societal benefits.

She will also push for all of Scotland’s landowners, whether they are communities, private individuals or charities, to be open, inclusive, enabling and responsible, through SLE’s Landowners’ Commitment.

Commenting on her appointment, Ms Laing said: “This is a critical time for rural Scotland. The challenges facing our rural businesses and communities have never been greater. They need certainty about what is going to happen with Brexit and what this could mean for them. 

It is crucial that the new UK Government realises that decisions they take could have unintentional consequences for rural Scotland.

“Another of my priorities is leading a positive, evidence-based approach to a bright future for rural Scotland, which will include increasing the diversity of voices in the debate, improving access across the sector for women, and working more collaboratively towards shared goals.”

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