RURAL TOURISM businesses can 'breathe a sigh of relief' that legislation for a short-term lets licensing scheme has been withdrawn from the Scottish Parliament to allow for more preparation.

The proposals would have introduced a new requirement for licensing of bed and breakfasts and self-catering and potentially the need to require planning permission.

A significant cross sectoral response, including from NFU Scotland, had indicated serious concerns over the rushed nature of the proposals, lack of information and impact on many agritourism businesses already closed due to Covid-19.

NFUS has now welcomed the announcement by Minister for Local Governance, Housing and Planning, Kevin Stewart, that the Scottish Government would withdraw the proposals to allow guidance to be developed with stakeholders.

“Farm diversification into short term lets such as bed and breakfast and self-catering accommodation is a significant source of income for many farms in Scotland," said newly elected NFUS vice-president Robin Traquair.

“They have already been dealt a significant blow by the impacts of Covid-19 and these ill thought out and rushed proposals could not have come at a worse time.

“There has been a significant widespread stakeholder lobbying effort to raise serious concerns about the proposals and it is gratifying that the Minister has listened to the voices of NFUS and others on this issue," he continued.

“There will clearly be more work to come on this matter, but farm businesses who operate this kind of accommodation can breathe a sigh of relief that there is now time for more appropriate guidance to be developed to ensure that the issues raised can be discussed in a more detailed and transparent manner.”