SCOTTISH Land & Estates, which represents 2,500 landowners across Scotland, issued the following statement in response to the announcement by a group, Land Action Scotland, urging members of the public to join charitable landowning trusts.
Luke Borwick, Chairman of Scottish Land & Estates, said: “Landowners continue to invest heavily and deliver real public benefit in rural communities across Scotland.
“It is deeply regrettable that the campaign group is now choosing to use the issue of community accountability as a thinly-disguised vehicle to pursue its real agenda of attacking landowners.
“Landowners and communities are engaging with each other constructively on a daily basis across Scotland and the overwhelming majority of landowners are very much part of their communities.
“It is also sad that the campaign group chooses to target two estates, which clearly demonstrate public benefit in terms of investment, tourism, agriculture and environment.
“We are an organisation that wholeheartedly supports community engagement and involvement and only yesterday we submitted a comprehensive response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the proposed Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill.
“There are numerous methods through which communities can pursue their objectives. As well as the many good examples of all sections of communities working together on a positive and voluntary basis, the community right to buy already exists and planning legislation is designed to ensure full community participation in the planning process.
“Anyone reading the accounts of Mount Stuart Trust and Applecross Estate will know how much investment is ploughed into those particular estates for the primary purpose of delivering public benefit. What is of paramount importance throughout Scotland is how land is managed and what it is being delivered.
“It is notable that only seven of the 91 trust applications delivered to Mount Stuart were from locally based applicants, and we believe that the proportion is similar for Applecross. It is worth noting that these seven applications account for less than 1% of the Bute population.
“There is an enormous amount achieved throughout rural Scotland by constructive dialogue and sensible working relationships. We will continue to strive to ensure that these efforts are recognised and take precedence over political agendas of certain campaign groups, which appear to be taken forward under the guise of local democracy”.