People in Aberdeenshire and the Scottish Borders will have the opportunity to contribute to how their land is used.
Two trial projects which will look at how land in Scotland is currently used and where improvements can be made will be announced tonight by the Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse in his speech to the National Ecological Network Conference.
The outcome of these pioneering projects aims to provide a mechanism to guide future decisions on how the land is used in the pilot areas.
The pilots will:
Involve local people in their development for example through workshops and meetings Inform decisions between different land uses, for instance renewables or forestry, in a way that optimises the use of the land for the benefit of the environment and society Further the understanding of how the natural environment works and what services nature provides us with for example flood mitigation Inform how land is and can be used in an integrated manner The outcomes of the pilots and projects will help to develop the first review of the Land Use Strategy in 2016.
In addition three forestry-focussed projects are also being undertaken in Dumfries and Galloway, Caithness and Sutherland, and Cowal – all in partnership with the relevant local authority.
Mr. Wheelhouse said:
“These pilot schemes are not about telling people what to do with their land but rather they are about looking at the region as a whole, providing advice and, where possible, working together to bring the community a better, healthier and more sustainable future guided by the view of those living and working within local communities.
“These are hugely important and exciting steps we are taking for the future of Scotland’s land. If successful these pilots could provide a blueprint for a more integrated way of looking at how we use and manage the land and its resources. I hope everyone with an interest in the way the land is used gets involved in the development of these Frameworks.”
Chairman of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee Cllr Peter Argyle said:
“We are pleased to have been approached to take part in this pilot project. It recognises the wide variety of land uses in Aberdeenshire together with its special environmental qualities.
“We look forward to leading the development of this regional strategy with a range of partners over the next two years and we will be developing our local approach over the coming weeks.”
Scottish Borders Cllr Ron Smith, Executive Member for Planning and the Environment, said:
"Participating in the Land Use Strategy pilot provides an exciting opportunity for Scottish Borders Council to help our rural businesses and communities make the best use of the land, providing potential opportunities to use Rural Development Funds."
Scotland’s first Land Use Strategy was launched March 17, 2011.
Regional Land Use Frameworks aim to pilot a mechanism which considers existing and future land uses in a collective and integrated way, and to establish a means to prioritise or guide decisions about possible competing or conflicting uses.
The scope of the pilots will be primarily those land uses which fall out with the statutory planning system, for example agriculture, forestry, peatland restoration, the water environment, habitat management, biodiversity etc. A partnership approach with all local land use interests will be required.
The pilots will be able to draw on the Scottish Government’s Strategic Research Programme to ensure that current research work can contribute to their development.
The forestry-focussed projects are building upon the existing regional forestry and woodland strategies, examining the differing constraints and opportunities that apply to different parts of the regions.