20 December 2001
Walkers concern at rural rebel tactics

By FWi staff

A DIRECT action campaign by militant rural protesters could drive a wedge between the town and countryside, Scotlands farming leaders fear.

The National Farmers Union of Scotland (NFUS) has called for talks with controversial group Rural Rebels to discuss its campaigning strategy.

NFUS president Jim Walker told BBC Scotland that direct action may be counter-productive, and hoped talks would clear up concerns.

The Rural Rebels umbrella group has called for an independent public inquiry into foot-and-mouth disease and the right to country pursuits.

Rural Rebels were among 12,000 demonstrators who marched through Edinburgh on Sunday (16 December) to protest about the Governments rural policies.

While the protest passed off peacefully, the Rural Rebels said they were prepared to take direct action that could lead to prison sentences.

But Mr Walker said there was a “grave danger” that the group would “start to alienate large numbers of people by blocking bridges or blocking roads”.

While such action might make good television it did not help efforts to change Scottish Executive policies, he said.

But Rural Rebels spokesman Noel Collins said the groups tactics had helped put rural concerns in the media spotlight.