Church of Scotland minister calls for two new towns to house refugees

A leading Church of Scotland minister has called for two new towns to be built in the Highlands that will house refugees.

Syrian refugee families arrive at their new homes on the Isle of Bute. Picture: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

The Rev Dr Rory MacLeod, a former Royal Marine who served in Afghanistan, said that two new settlements in the Highlands taking 100,000 refugees each would help tackle the region’s depopulation problems.

Rev MacLeod, who was an army chaplain for over six years, said the surge would bring “an injection of youth and talent - to our denuded wilderness , while the hills would again ring with industry and culture, albeit of an exotic kind.”

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The Kirk minister took over the Strath and Sleat congregation on Skye two years ago, having previously led Holy Trinity Church in St Andrews.

Writing in a letter to the Church’s house magazine, Life And Work, he wrote: “Two items from the news today caught my eye: a resurgence in migrants attempting the perilous Mediterranean crossing from North Africa to Europe and the slack nature of the Scottish economy.

“At our Bible study the other evening we were discussing how we might respond to the refugee crisis.

“Someone came up with a suggestion that would address both issues: that two new towns of 100,000 residents each should be created in the northwest Highlands, which refugees from the Middle East and North Africa should be invited to occupy.”

Rev MacLeod’s comments come amid renewed fears Scotland’s economy is facing a Brexit nosedive after a surge in the number of EU nationals leaving the UK resulted in net migration falling to a three-year low.

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