The focus of late has been very much on the rural parts of Scotland, an indication of their importance in the future prosperity of the nation.

If evidence was needed of their vital role in our economic future, the arrival of a string of government ministers is surely a clear indicator.

Sites in the Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport area in the last few weeks have welcomed the First Minister and the then Scottish wellbeing economy, net zero and energy secretary to announce two large-scale projects by Haventus and Sumitomo, attracted by the ScotWind offshore renewables round, together worth billions of pounds in investment in this part of the world.

And so it was not surprising it was Nigg that the Prime Minister chose for the Scottish leg of his whistle- stop tour to start his election campaign.

Yet it is not only the inner Moray Firth that is seeing major investment – the sheer scale of work on decommissioning and salmon farming at Kishorn is breathtaking.

Add in a renaissance of pumped storage hydro schemes, throw in a spaceport or two and it is hard to ignore the possibility that rural areas are coming to the fore.

Yet most of the challenges raised by our Rural Commission in 2018, revisited again last year, continue to be obstacles to growth, with too much emphasis on policy and not enough on delivery.

The shortage of housing has reached critical levels, leading to a chronic shortage of people to work in rural areas. There is better broadband in places, but the lack of progress on the A9 and the A96, as well as problems with ferry capacity, all ham- per progress.

Our rural areas can no longer be considered an afterthought. It is hopefully a message that visiting politicians have taken back with them.