Highlands & Islands MSP presses Government on the impact of carbon offset schemes on rural depopulation

Highlands and Islands MSP Emma Roddick has told the Scottish Government that private investment in carbon schemes needs to complement, not damage, the needs of surrounding rural communities.

The SNP MSP linked the schemes, which often involve rich private investors buying up land in the Highlands to sell carbon credits, to depopulation, saying that communities need to be involved in how their land is used if they are to survive.

In response, Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport, Michael Matheson, expressed the Scottish Government’s commitment to acting to ensure that increasing levels of natural capital investment delivered benefits for rural communities.

Ms Roddick said:

“Highland communities are sick of private interests running roughshod over their needs and wishes. 

“Some private investment to help us reach our climate targets may be helpful, but that has to be done alongside – or even by – those who live and work in the area, rather than be something that is done to us.

“The Highlands is home to many people and livelihoods and, if we are going to prevent further rural depopulation, the Scottish Government needs to empower folk to have a say in how their land is used; not teach them that their voices will be drowned out whenever private companies produce an eye-watering amount of money to do things their way.”