Scottish government pledges end to ‘stop start’ land reform

Aileen McLeod
Aileen McLeod

Scottish landowners will have to accept “the public responsibilities that come with that ownership” following the introduction of new land reform legislation.

Land reform minister Aileen McLeod pledged to end “the stop start nature of historic land reform” as she published new draft legislation to tackle the issue.

The Land Reform (Scotland) Bill contains “radical reforms to promote sustainability, fairness and transparency”, according to the Scottish government, which claimed power on a manifesto backing “a review of Scotland’s land reform legislation”.

The bill is designed to ensure the issues of fairness, equality and social justice connected to the ownership of, access to and use of land in Scotland are given a permanent footing with the creation of a Scottish Land Commission.

The Scottish government will be required to issue guidance to landowners on rights and responsibilities as well as responsible community engagement.

The bill would also give communities, both in urban and rural Scotland, a right to buy land to further sustainable development.

Other provisions of the bill include:

  • Ending rates exemptions for shooting and deerstalking estates;
  • Creating a Tenant Farming Commissioner as part of the Scottish Land Commission, along with other modernising elements of Scotland’s tenant farming legislation;
  • Encouraging better information and greater transparency on the ownership of land, through the land register;
  • Strengthening the regulators hand in instances where land owners are failing to take their deer management responsibilities seriously;
  • Improvements to both systems of common good land and right to roam.
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