Decrofting legislation to tackle the difficulties owner-occupier crofters are facing when applying to decroft their land has been passed by the Scottish Parliament.
Decrofting land can enable a house to be built on the land and facilitate croft land being passed from one generation to the next. It was the intention of the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament that tenant and owner-occupier crofters be treated similarly under the Crofting Reform (Scotland) Act 2010.
The issue came to light recently that owner-occupier crofters were unable to apply to the Crofting Commission to decroft land and the Scottish Government brought forward a bill to amend existing legislation.
The Environment and Climate Change Minister Paul Wheelhouse said:
“The Scottish Government has been working extremely hard with the Scottish Parliament, the Crofting Commission and other stakeholders to resolve these issues as quickly as possible.
“I hope the legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament today offers owner-occupier crofters, lenders and others the reassurance that action has been taken and decrofting of land can continue, where it has no negative impact on crofting as a whole.
“I gave an undertaking to this Parliament during Stage 1 of the Bill that my officials will investigate, in consultation with stakeholders, what the best method might be for dealing with the outstanding issues. Stakeholders should therefore expect contact from my officials to arrange a discussion on the next steps for crofting.
“I would like to thank members for the cross-party support this Bill has received as the Parliament worked together to resolve this issue.
Western Isles MSP, Alasdair Allan, has welcomed the passing of the crofting (Scotland) Bill today at Holyrood. The Bill responds to criticism that existing crofting legislation contained a loophole preventing owner occupiers from decrofting land.
Alasdair Allan commented: “The Scottish Government has responded quickly to correct a defect in the law which meant that the Crofting Commission did not have confidence to process applications by owner occupiers to decroft land. A very brief Bill was put to Parliament to correct this, and it has made its way through Parliament more quickly than most legislation normally would.
“The Bill was passed at Stage 3 by the Parliament, meaning that once it has received Royal Assent, it can be implemented. In anticipation, the Crofting Commission have indicated they will begin to process applications to decroft.
“This matter is now being resolved and I would thank all those in the crofting community who have helped ensure that the Bill has been expedited so swiftly.”