Private landowners are ‘wholly committed’ to working with communities to drive forward rural development across Scotland.
Scottish Land & Estates’ chief executive Douglas McAdam said that private landowners are delivering substantial public benefit and the debate over private versus community ownership of land 'desperately needs to move forward'.
The Scottish Government Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Minister, Dr Aileen McLeod, this week addressed Scottish Land & Estates' conference on delivering public benefit from private land.
She recognised the contribution of private estates but said there is a need for greater collaboration between landowners and communities.
Douglas McAdam said: “It is very clear that the Scottish Government see collaboration as being the way forward and we wholly agree with that ambition.
"The evidence of how public benefit can be generated from private land is compelling and so much more can be achieved through co-operation and collaboration. Landowners are part of their communities and the more that can be done to work together the better.
“Our annual conference once again underlined that landowners are wholly committed to delivering new and substantial developments for the good of rural communities across the country. Our conference showcased the public benefits that occur day in, day out, thanks to private landowners. The challenge now is to continue this work with a renewed sense of vigour. Too often the debate around private and community land ownership is polarised when in reality more can be achieved by recognising that both models have a role to play. There is space for everyone."
Delegates at the Scottish Land & Estates conference heard of the wide range of work carried out by Scottish Land & Estates members on topics from hydro energy schemes to Wildlife Estates Scotland accreditation to peatland restoration.
Ronnie MacRae of the Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust and Hugh Raven from Ardtornish Estate highlighted how the third sector and private landowners were collaborating on a range of innovative measures to provide affordable homes to the local community.
“Thankfully, we are now starting to see a debate where land use is starting to be placed at the heart of the discussion", said Mr McAdam. “The example of Ardtornish Estate, and many others on the day, shows how estates are helping to drive forward public benefits, often at their own expense, for the good of local communities.
“Pia Bucella, Director of Natural Capital at the European Commission, said in her speech on the State of Nature in the EU, was clear in her message that private landowners are providing land management that is up there with the best in Europe. We have to take this forward at a time when new land reform legislation is forthcoming and demonstrate clearly to government that landowners can help meet their objectives for rural Scotland."