In a speech to the Community Land Scotland conference in Skye Environment and Climate Change Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, announced that the Scottish Government is set to bring forward a Land Reform Bill for Scotland.
This follows the publication of the report by the Land Reform Review Group earlier this month. The Bill will build on measures already being brought forward in the forthcoming Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill, which will be introduced in the near future.
This new legislation is in addition to the series of measures already announced by the Scottish Government in response to the report and will have a positive impact in both rural and urban areas.
The Minister also announced the Scottish Land Fund will be extended until at least 2020 which will allow communities time to consider and plan their projects, and demonstrates the Scottish Government’s on-going commitment to community ownership and empowerment.
In his speech Mr Wheelhouse said: “The Review Group’s report was a major milestone in taking forward Scotland’s land reform journey and I welcome its vision and the significant contribution the report makes to the debate in Scotland. Over the coming weeks and months the Scottish Government, Scottish Parliament and Scottish society will have time to consider the report.
“By bringing forward a Land Reform Bill, before the end of the current term of the Scottish Parliament, we will take forward the direction of travel laid out in the report. The Bill will be another significant step forward in ensuring our land is used in the public interest and to the benefit of the people of Scotland.
“My vision, and that of my colleagues, for Scotland is for a fairer, wider and more equitable, distribution of land across our nation, where communities and individuals have access to land and the Land Reform Bill will enable much of this to happen.
“The Scottish Government is already taking action on several recommendations in the report. My colleague, Fergus Ewing and I have already announced that we will ask Registers of Scotland to prepare to complete the land register within ten years with a target to register public land in the first five years. We have also created the Crofting Legislation Stakeholder Consultation Group to develop a modern and robust statutory framework for crofting.
“The Community Empowerment Bill, which will include improving communities ability to buy land, will be laid before parliament later this month and we have announced we will establish a working group to help plan for the achievement of the million acre community land ownership target for 2020.
“We have the Agricultural Holdings Review which is considering the recommendation on the community dimension of any right to buy. The current Wild Fisheries review will bring forward recommendations for a management system for wild fisheries that will be fit for purpose in the 21st century and beyond.
“I can also announce today that this government is committed to maintaining the Scottish Land Fund until at least until 2020. This will give greater confidence to communities to consider community land ownership and time to work up their plans.
“This is an especially important consideration as plans do not just happen: projects need time to develop, and this can sometimes be a year or two or more. It would allow for a growing interest and confidence in the sector which is important in underpinning the growth in community ownership of land as we move towards the million acres target announced by the First Minister at this conference a year ago.”