Western Isles Councillors to give further consideration to crofters’ rights

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The issue of crofters’ rights to develop common grazing lands will return to Comhairle committee agendas next year after councillors called for a more detailed report on crofting legislation.

Last week’s Sustainable Development Committee did receive a report by Comhairle officers outlining specific details of crofting legislation, but an amendment raised by South Uist and Barra councillor, Calum Macmillan, to the report’s proposal to note the information, called for a more detailed report to come to the committee’s next meeting.

Cllr MacMillan’s proposal was accepted without further discussion.

Amongst the issues addressed in Cllr. MacMillan’s amendment, was a call for clarification of how crofting law ‘can progress the Comhairle policy of Community Empowerment in relation to Crofting Communities in the wake of the recent rulings by the Crofting Commission on plans by Aignish, Melbost and Branahuie, Sandwick/Sandwick East Street and Sandwick North Street Grazing Committees to develop wind farms on their common grazing lands’.

The amendment also asked how ‘an agreement with third parties would take precedence over an extant statutory lease agreement between a Landlord and Crofters’ and how ‘the economic interests of Crofters in their grazing could be impacted on as a direct consequence of a reduction of rights in their extant statutory crofting lease’.

In a statement issued by the Comahirle’s SNP Group of councillors, Cllr Macmillan said: “It concerned us that without the SNP Group’s amendments, the best interests of the people through crofting legislation would not be safeguarded.”