Public attitudes to land reform study

General News

A study of public attitudes towards land reform carried out on behalf of the Scottish Government by Ipsos MORI Scotland has been published. A lack of knowledge of the land reform agenda and even an understanding of what land reform means is apparent in this research. In deliberative discussions, there was general support for a greater number of landowners though less importance was placed on widening the types of owners. Additionally, others felt it mattered less who owned the land, and more how they treated it. 

Key findings include:

  • 73% of respondents say they knew ‘not very much’ or ‘nothing at all’ about Scottish Government’s plans for land reform.
  • Where diversification of ownership is concerned, respondents showed support for Scottish Government plans to diversify land ownership – although it proved in discussions that this was support for a greater number of landowners rather than type, and others felt it mattered less who owned land and more how they treated it.
  • Conversations around diversification seem to have focussed on Community Right to Buy.
  • There was a desire expressed for the costs and benefits of Community Right to Buy purchases to be assessed.
  • There was concern that communities might lack the skills and resources to take over and run assets.
  • 17% of respondents suggest inequality in land ownership is the biggest challenge for the future of Scotland’s land. That’s behind climate change and building on greenspace.

Commenting on the study, Gavin Mowat, Policy Adviser at Scottish Land & Estates said: “Land management businesses have embraced massive change over the past 20 years or so and there are so many positive outcomes from multiple ownership models including public, private and community. They are all playing their part in delivering Scottish Government policy in key areas such as climate change, housing, and job creation.

“We believe this study demonstrates there is clearly a lack of understanding about land reform which underpins the responses in this research. Ultimately, there needs to be more robust, independent evidence to inform the land reform debate, and more to be done to increase awareness of the current benefits delivered from Scotland’s land. SLE wholeheartedly supports community engagement in land use decisions and has been actively engaged with the Scottish Land Commission in developing plans and protocols to encourage this.

“Land management businesses have adapted to a barrage of legislation and regulation and have taken a very constructive approach to land reform. They are unwavering in their efforts to help rural Scotland thrive and, for us, this is and will be the greatest challenge in the years ahead.”

You can read more about our work on land reform including consultation responses, legislation and guidance on our website here. Land Reform | Scottish Land & Estates (

You can read the Scottish Government’s study here. Attitudes to land reform: research - (

SLE members can contact Policy Advisor Gavin Mowat at