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Estates to Strengthen Community Relationships

New programme launched to promote sustainable rural communities
through increased collaborative working

SCOTLAND’S landowners will today (Friday) launch a new initiative to support and promote engagement between estates and rural communities.

Scottish Land & Estates, which represents landowners across Scotland, will unveil its Community Engagement Programme at the SNP conference in Perth.

Douglas McAdam, chief executive of Scottish Land & Estates, said: “The debate on land reform which has been taking place this year has been characterised by the relationships between estates and the communities in which they are situated.

“All over Scotland meaningful engagement is taking place between estates and local communities on a daily basis and only this week an important independent report by SRUC – Scotland’s Rural College* – recognised the major contribution estates make in rural areas.

“The reality is that estates are, in the main, part of their communities, entwined in many aspects of rural social and economic life and view strong working relationships as a necessary element of their business.  These existing positive relationships are a key reason we resolved to produce a new programme of engagement between rural estates and their local communities.  So many estates have been working well with communities for generations and the new programme will work flexibly to reinforce those relationships while encouraging even more landowners to build strong local ties”.

The programme has been based on the recent report Working Together for Sustainable Estate Communities report, produced as part of the sustainable estates project carried out by the UHI’s Perth College and as detailed in Scottish Land & Estates’ submission to the Land Reform Review Group.  The recent appointment of a Projects Manager focusing on community engagement will help take the new programme forward and ensure its impact is maximised.

The industry-led document includes key operating advice such as:

  • Increased proactivity, visibility and approachability;
  • Step by step guidance on active communication and community involvement in decision making;
  • Workshops to raise awareness of good practice and provide training for landowners and land managers which will take place across Scotland in the next few months;
  • Inspirational ideas for making the best use of assets in collaboration with local groups.

Successful implementation of the programme will empower local communities while reinforcing estates as integral members of their local community.  The longer term legacy will be a system where members of the community automatically work more closely with estates to together make the best use of available rural land assets in a given area.

Director of Policy and Parliamentary Affairs at Scottish Land & Estates Sarah Jane Laing commented:

“The new Community Engagement Programme recognises some of the great activities already being driven forward by many estates and provides a blueprint for other landowners to follow suit.  The guidelines facilitate engagement on many different levels beyond the requisite statutory planning requirements.  They will detail engagement techniques from running a fundraising event with a local community group to a full-scale community needs assessment and community or estate development plan.   Where relevant it can also assist in consideration of the transfer of land and asset to a community group.”

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