Decrofting legislation to tackle specific difficulties owner-occupier crofters are facing when decrofting their land has been introduced to the Scottish Parliament.
The Crofting (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill was introduced on 9th May and it is hoped that the Bill be make expedited progress through the parliamentary process so that the problem can be resolved as quickly as possible. The hope is to complete Stage 3 before the Summer recess.
Decrofting land can enable a house to be built on the land and facilitate crofting land being passed from one generation to the next. It was the intention of the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament that tenant and owner-occupier crofters be treated similarly under the Crofting Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 but the Crofting Commission recently determined that the Act had inadvertently treated tenant and owner-occupier crofters differently. Owner-occupier crofters were therefore restricted from submitting decrofting applications until the problem is rectified. This Bill is tightly drawn and specifically seeks to rectify the problems experienced by owner-occupier crofters.
Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “It came to light recently that there was an issue with the Crofting Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 and the Scottish Government, along with the Crofting Commission, has been working extremely hard to resolve these issues as quickly as possible to ensure that the Scottish Parliament’s intent can be delivered.
“There are, clearly, different legal opinions on this issue, and this Bill will provide legal certainty for all involved in the process on the competency of owner-occupier crofter applications to the Commission to decroft their land, including those already in receipt of a decrofting direction or those whose application is currently held in abeyance.
“I hope by taking these steps crofters, lenders and others are reassured that the necessary action is being taken. I will be working to secure support from across the Scottish Parliament as the Bill goes through the parliamentary process, with a view to resolving the matter before the summer recess.”
To see the Bill and supporting documentation see: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/Bills/62935.aspx