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RURAL DEVELOPMENT DEPENDENT ON TRANSPORT

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A key finding from a study of rural accessibility has found that better integration of transport options can help a...
A key finding from a study of rural accessibility has found that better integration of transport options can help alleviate social exclusion.

The research, in a report Rural Accessibilityby the Central Research Unit, found that access to good transport links can help existing isolation and accessibility problems and prevent access to rural services from becoming more difficult.

Environment and rural development minister Ross Finnie said:

'We are committed to supporting the development of healthy, vibrant rural

communities. That means not only promoting economic development by

supporting rural-based businesses, but also in improving the quality of

life for people who live in our rural areas.

'This report confirms that cars are an important part of rural life. But

people without cars should be able to get access to services too. There is

a need not simply for more transport services, but better integration of

those that exist already.

Deputy minister for enterprise transport and lifelong learning Lewis

MacDonald added:

'We recognise that connecting communities, jobs and services in rural areas

is a key objective for rural development. That is why we have already

increased investment in rural transport, including, since 1999, around£18

million funding for the Rural Transport fund supporting over 380 new and

improved public transport services and 100 rural community transport

services. But we accept that there is still more to do.

'We will be following up this report with two pilot projects to test out

demand responsive integrated transport solutions to rural transport needs.

These pilots will be evaluated, and, if successful, will be rolled out

throughout Scotland.'

The research was carried out by Derek Halden Consultancy, Aberdeen

University and Scottish Agricultural College during 2000-2001. It

undertook a postal and follow- up telephone survey in 5 study areas, each

with different rural characteristics. These were West Aberdeenshire, East

Ayrshire, Central Caithness and Sutherland, East Lothian and Wigtownshire.

Travel patterns and perceptions of accessibility and rural dwelling were

revealed and explored. Focus groups then refined these and considered

options to remedy the problems of accessibility in each area.

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