New era for crofting

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Scotland’s Crofting Commission is now open for business – and Environment Minister Stewart Stevenson met the new commissioners for the first time this week.

The Crofting Commission – which was established on April 1 and supersedes the Crofters Commission – aims to meet the needs of crofting and crofters in the 21st century. The Commission will have the power to regulate crofting to ensure that crofts are occupied and worked or, if not, made available to those who want to croft.

The new Commission was one of the measures introduced as part of the Crofting Reform Act 2010. The Act also establishes a definitive map-based crofting register to remove doubt over what is croft land and who has rights and responsibilities for that land, places a duty on the Commission to tackle absenteeism and neglect, and addresses speculation on croft land.

The elected crofting representatives are:

Kathleen Sinclair, Shetland

Arnie Pirie, Orkney and Caithness

Donnie Ross, East Highlands

Murdo MacLennan, Western Isles

Ian Macdonald, West Highlands

Colin Kennedy, South West Highlands

They join Susan Walker, William Swann and Sandy Cross who were appointed to the commission board by the Scottish Ministers. The first Crofting Commission convener will be appointed shortly.

Mr Stevenson said:

“This is a momentous day for crofting as we drive forward the reform agenda which will secure a sustainable future for crofting.

“I’m very pleased to attend the first gathering of the newly elected and appointed Crofting Commissioners in Inverness and to meet those responsible for ensuring the Commission is an effective regulator of crofting. The majority of commissioners have been democratically elected by crofters, putting the power directly in the hands of crofters themselves.

“Crofting is part of Scotland’s history and culture and the Crofting Commission will ensure that it is also part of Scotland’s future.”