SCOTLAND’S transport system needs to deliver reliable and cost-effective transportation between its island, rural and semi-rural locations in order to underpin the agricultural and crofting businesses and communities at the heart of those areas.

That is the core message of the National Farmers Union Scotland response to a Transport Scotland consultation into the nation’s future transport strategy.

The union's newly appointed business policy advisor Zoe Meldrum said: “Maintenance of a safe, efficient transport system is vital for our island, rural and semi-rural members from an environmental, economic and social perspective.

“It’s vital any future transport network changes are conducted with a ‘rural first’ approach to ensure all rural enterprises are placed at the centre of infrastructure improvements," she said.

“It should always be borne in mind that farming and crofting are mainstays for employment in rural, often remote communities, as well as a key driver in rural and island population retention.

“Many NFUS members live in rural and remote areas and rely heavily on the road, rail and ferry network to go about their day to day business. Considerations such as resilience in poor weather, lack of available public transport options and the ability of agricultural traffic to utilise the road network need to be reflected in subsequent policy.”