“Neglected” rural communities must not be left behind during the coronavirus recovery, the Scottish Conservatives have said.
Leader Douglas Ross has pledged £550 million of community investment deals worth up to £25 million each in the party’s rural manifesto.
Mr Ross is due to launch the manifesto at a farm in Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, on Sunday.
The Tories also say they will end uncertainty for farmers by consulting on a blueprint to replace the Common Agricultural Policy within 100 days of the election.
They also want to review sentencing and penalties for rural crime.
Mr Ross said: “Scotland’s rural communities have been neglected by the SNP for too long.
“They have been held back by poor infrastructure, diminished services and a lack of clarity for farmers – this must change now.
“Rural areas must not be left behind as Scotland recovers from Covid-19, so we have set out plans to spread economic growth and improve public services.
“We want to create jobs in these areas, so that no one needs to move away from where they have grown up to find work.”
He continued: “From rolling out full-fibre broadband to ensuring councils receive fair funding, the Scottish Conservatives will give rural areas the support they need to thrive.
“For farmers, we have committed to end the uncertainty by launching a full public consultation on a blueprint for Scotland’s new agricultural policy within 100 days of the election.
“The SNP have dallied and delayed for too long. We would work with the farming sector to design a simple and fair system that works for Scottish farmers and crofters.
“I am committed to putting a stop to the SNP’s centralisation agenda and representing rural communities, so their voices are heard loud and clear at Holyrood.”
Responding to the Tories’ pledges, an SNP spokesman said: “There’s nothing proposed here for farming that the SNP isn’t already doing or has promised.
“These proposals ignore that the Tories are centralising hundreds of millions of funds for communities and farming at Westminster, giving Scotland no say in how these will be distributed.
“They also ignore that by far the biggest challenge to Scotland’s rural and coastal communities is Brexit.
“It has harmed hundreds of businesses, putting at risk jobs and livelihoods, with trade barriers resulting in fewer exports.
“Yet the Tories are silent on how to fix that – because they know the solution is to put Scotland’s future and recovery in Scotland’s hands.”
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