Scottish Land & Estates today appealed for confidence and stability to be restored to Scotland’s tenant farming sector.
A range of new measures relating to tenant farming are proposed in the Land Reform Bill and there have been a number recent of calls for the Scottish Government and Parliament to be even more radical in its approach as well as to revisit legislation on Limited Partnership tenancies.
David Johnstone, chairman of Scottish Land & Estates, said: “It is quite clear that the Land Reform Bill will have a significant impact on land-based business because of the unprecedented and radical measures contained within it.
“We are now seeing demands from other quarters for even greater radical proposals and attempts to turn up the heat particularly on the agricultural side of the Bill which - as it stands - will deliver far reaching changes. There are also attempts to link demands for further action on Limited Partnership agreements to the land reform process. This is in our view a recipe for further confusion and has the potential to damage the sector even further.
“Tenant farming is of paramount importance and collectively we must strive to restore confidence and stability which has been eroded because of a very protracted review process. Without confidence and stability the sector cannot move forward. We have always been deeply concerned about the risks of lumping complex agricultural legislation into a wider Land Reform Bill, and now worry that strident voices calling for extreme measures could lead to bad legislation that will not serve the next generation of farmers well.
“The Scottish Government and the industry has been working hard in the last few years to deal with the fall-out of the last flawed legislation passed by the then Labour-led Scottish Executive.
“Everyone involved in Scottish agriculture knows from bitter experience through the Salvesen v Riddell case of the consequences of hastily amending complex legislation. No-one wants to see a similar situation arise and we appeal in good faith to the Parliament to exercise caution in dealing with any legislative changes in this area.
“We are now seeing activists confusing the legitimate end of tenancy agreements as being evictions.
“What happened in 2003 is that legislation was passed that gave some tenants involved in Limited Partnership agreements rights to a secure tenancy. That flawed legislation was then superseded by other remedial legislation which decreed they were not secure tenants.
“It was not the fault of the tenants nor the landlords but the fault of defective legislation. In one particular case it is now being claimed that the tenant is being evicted. In our understanding the two parties had agreed a tenancy which would end on a specific date. It is deeply regrettable that the tenant in question was given false hope by defective legislation and it is to be hoped that the outgoing tenant and the estate reach agreement on compensation at waygo.”