Call for new land rights

In evidence submitted to the Land Reform Review Group established by the Scottish Government to push forward land reforms, Community Land Scotland has called for new land rights for communities.

In their evidence Community Land Scotland argues for:

 Extended rights over all land in Scotland for communities to have an absolute right to purchase land

 The creation of a land agency to facilitate `mediated negotiations’ with land-owners to achieve land transfers

 An increase in the Land Fund for community purchases to £10m a year

 A streamlining of the existing land reform act to make it less complex and easier for communities to use

 A review of charitable status of Trusts which hold land and which have closed membership

 A new deal for tenant farmers with greater security of tenure and possible new rights to buy in community owned estates

David Cameron, Chairman of Community Land Scotland said: “Today we set out our detailed evidence to the Land Reform Review Group. That evidence sets out a reasoned case for necessary changes in legislation to give new powers to communities across Scotland by extending the rights that already exist for crofting communities, to other land in Scotland, when that is in the public interest.

“Our proposals are radical and responsible. They are not just about new powers for communities to take greater control of their future, they set out constructive approaches to making change, with an emphasis on negotiated settlements of land transfers, and a dedicated land agency to facilitate that process. The new rights would only operate when Ministers judged it was in the public interest to see a transfer of the land in question, and in order to further sustainable development.

“In Scotland half the country is owned by just 608 people and only 18 owners own 10% of Scotland. This leaves Scotland centuries behind other advanced nations which long ago reformed their land laws to bring about a greater sharing of their nation’s resources, giving more access to the opportunities the land can create for people. It is time Scotland caught up, time to make more change. It is hard to envisage a modern, progressive, Scotland which retains its old land ownership patterns.

”We are in no doubt that the vested interests in large land holdings will oppose any further change and make the case that such further change is unnecessary, but the evidence is that change in land ownership, giving more people a stake in the land, releases new energy and enterprise in communities and brings wider public benefits than may be otherwise achieved.”