Openness and transparency - the new Scottish Land Commission Protocol
Our policy adviser Gavin Mowat takes us through the new Scottish Land Commission Protocol.
At SLE we recognise the benefits openness and transparency, where greater clarity can reduce the potential for conflict and collaborative decision-making can increase the chances of win-win outcomes for everyone involved. That is why before the implementation of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016, we set out a series of principles and responsibilities of modern land ownership in a ‘Landowners’ Commitment’ which included a key principle to openness.
In achieving this, our Landowners Commitment recommends taking reasonable steps to ensure that ownership of land is visible, ensuring that landowners or their named representative are accessible and contactable, and communicating estate plans to those who will be affected by them.
Given that, in the interests of further enhancing transparency of ownership, legislation has moved to ensure that landowners and managers contribute to the Land Register and a new Register of Persons Holding a Controlled Interest in Land, now is the right time to enhance support and guidance that leads to best practice in transparency within the land-based sector.
As part of the Good Practice Advisory Group, we have been working with the Scottish Land Commission and other stakeholders to produce the second in a series of Protocols intended to support the practical implementation of the Scottish Government’s Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement (LRRS). The Transparency of Ownership and Land Use Decision-Making focuses on Principle 5 of the LRRS, which states:
“There should be improved transparency of information about the ownership, use and management of land, and this should be publicly available, clear and contain relevant detail.”
The Protocol asks that up-to-date information about who owns that land as well as contact information for the landowner or for someone with decision-making authority should be available. The Protocol is also accompanied by templates for transparency of ownership which can be tailored by anyone looking to provide information about their land-based business.
We will continue to work with SLC as work develops on providing case studies and further guidance in relation to this and other topics covered by the Good Practice Advisory Group.
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