Scottish Land & Estates responds to Scottish parliamentary debate on land reform
Following the Scottish Parliament debate on land reform today, Scottish Land & Estates – which represents landowners across Scotland – issued the following statement.
Chairman Luke Borwick said: “Landowners are willing to embrace change and, as their representative body, we have made progressive suggestions to the Land Reform Review Group. Our proposals have a key objective at their core - to help build and sustain a healthy rural economy where private and community enterprises can flourish side by side and collaboratively. This is our vision. We believe it would be most productive way forward and would urge the group to work towards creating the right environment to help make this happen.
“Some of the rhetoric we heard during today’s parliamentary debate was entirely predictable. Certain politicians called for tenant farmers to be given an absolute right to buy which would of course allow any purchaser to disregard an owner’s wishes. No one mentioned that the majority of members in every industry body - including the representative body of tenant farmers – were not in favour of absolute right to buy in their submissions to the land reform review group. All that such a measure would achieve would be to kill confidence for people looking to let land and damage the tenanted sector. Also, suggestions by some politicians that we are somehow living in a climate fear akin to Highland clearances can only be described as misleading and unsubstantiated. We would investigate any evidence to the contrary.
“Private landowners make major social, economic and environmental contributions to rural Scotland and are very much part of their local communities. It is time that this is recognised as the reality of life in rural Scotland rather than the historical caricature some politicians prefer to sustain.
“As an organisation, we are supportive of a broad church of land ownership and support community buy-outs. We welcome the Scottish Government’s view that the process of such buy outs should be simplified but we are fundamentally opposed to the concept of enforcing the sale of land to communities or individuals. All sales should be on the basis of willing seller and willing buyer, which is the foundation of all property transactions. That applies to every property owner in Scotland.”