Private landowners are in prime position to help the Scottish Government achieve the vast majority of its land reform objectives, Scottish Land & Estates said today.
The organisation, which represents landowners throughout Scotland, gave evidence to the Rural Affairs and Climate Change Committee at the Scottish Parliament and called for more recognition for the majority of private owners who are ensuring that land is used for the benefit of rural communities, including those occasions where community right to buy is being supported by a willing seller.
Sarah-Jane Laing, Director of Policy and Parliamentary Affairs, said that Scottish Land & Estates had made a raft of progressive and constructive proposals to the Land Reform Review Group and the Agricultural Holdings Review Group.
These include: -
- Streamlining the process for community groups to buy land for sale.
- Developing a community planning system that will benefit entire local communities.
- Progressing provision of affordable rural housing.
- Safeguarding the rights of tenant farmers (compensation at waygo amnesty)
- Establishing a new framework to help eliminate bad practice. (Office of Scottish Tenant Farming).
- Creating new opportunities for next generation farmers.
Ms Laing said: “We believe that immediate improvements need to be made to streamline the community buyout process. There are willing sellers in Scotland who are willing to play their part in assisting community buyouts but sadly, both buyers and sellers often find the current process too convoluted to negotiate.”
“We are sad to see the current land reform debate appears to continue to ignore the contribution of private landowners and their businesses. Our members are passionate about playing their part and are in a prime position to help government deliver real and lasting benefit for rural Scotland – and that includes land reform.
“Community and private should not be viewed as opposite ends of the spectrum. We believe responsible governance, management and use of land – whether in public, private or community ownership – should be the determining factor in the policy landscape.
Referring to the LRRG report published recently Ms Laing said: “The report does not reflect the very substantial social, economic and environmental contribution made to Scotland by private landownership of all scales. Nor does it address many of the real issues to successful rural communities such as infrastructure, planning and funding. “