Land reform proposals prompt differing responses in Scotland
31 May 2014 | By Olivia Midgley
THERE has been a mixed response to the Land Reform Review Group’s (LRRG) programme for change in Scotland.
The LRRG report puts forward 62 land reform recommendations to Government, including the potential to enforce the sale
of property to community groups and tenant farmers.
The report also calls for the creation of more publicly-funded bodies such as a land commission to look at the sale and
ownership of land.
However, Scottish Land and Estates chairman David Johnstone said funding the changes was likely to be an issue at a time
when public spending was ‘tight’.
He said: “At a time when bodies such as small community housing trusts are struggling for funding to achieve their
objectives, we would suggest if this money exists, those who live and work in rural Scotland could suggest more practical
measures for delivering real solutions for their area than the LRRG has come up with.”
Under the plans, LRRG has proposed to map all land in Scotland which Environment and Climate Change Minister Paul
Wheelhouse said was a ‘vital underpinning step in Scotland’s land reform journey and will ensure at last everyone will know
who owns Scotland’.
Mr Johnstone said the organisation was not opposed to land reform and supports the community buy-out process being
made simpler, ‘however, this should be against the backdrop of a willing seller’.
Ran Morgan, head of Knight Frank Scotland, said the proposals could have a huge impact for landowners.
He said: “I hope when the Scottish Parliament considers the report’s findings it rejects those aspects which seem to be an
attack on the private ownership of land, rather than a sensible contribution to the land reform debate.”
Scottish Countryside Alliance director Jamie Stewart claimed ‘on first reading we are very concerned’.
He added: “Although we wholeheartedly support greater community involvement in land ownership and management, we
fear the proposed changes will seriously damage private investment in Scotland which will put the jobs and livelihoods of
thousands of people in the most marginal rural communities at risk.”
Scottish Tenant Farmers Association chairman Christopher Nicholson said it mirrored many of the group’s own proposals.
He said: “Above all, the report establishes the link between land and tenancy reform and provides some clear guidance to
the Agricultural Holdings Legislation Group.”
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