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SNP MSP for the South of Scotland Aileen McLeod has hailed the publication of the Land reform Bill today as an opportunity to end “the stop start nature of historic land reform”.
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.
This will be backed by a requirement on the Scottish Government to have a statement on rights and responsibilities over land, and issuing guidance to landowners on engaging responsibly with communities.
Alongside this structural reform, the Bill brings forward a number of practical measures that will make a real difference to communities. This includes giving communities a right to buy land to further sustainable development, which will apply in both urban and rural Scotland.
The Bill also proposes powers that will enable communities or individuals to find out information about owners and tenants of land where this would help them resolve the issues they face.
Key measures in 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.
The Bill will support the Government’s existing work to pass power to people and local communities, encourage and support responsible and diverse landownership and ensure communities have a say in how land in their area is used.
“We cannot underestimate the crucial part land reform will play in contributing to the future success of communities across Scotland. Through the Land Reform Bill the Scottish Government wants to ensure that future generations have access to land required to promote business and economic growth and to provide access to good quality, affordable food, energy and housing.
“The introduction of the Bill is a significant step forward in ensuring our land is used in the public interest and to the benefit of the people of Scotland. It will also end the stop start nature of land reform in Scotland that has limited progress.
“Tackling the causes and consequences of inequality is at the heart of the Scottish Government’s work.
“Land is one of our most valuable assets. Owning land can help realise the aspirations and potential of our communities, making a real difference to long-term sustainability, and building stronger, more resilient and supportive communities. In Dumfries & Galloway we already have a fantastic example of community ownership in the Mull of Galloway, which with the help of the Scottish Land Fund is now owned and managed as a visitor attraction by its community.
“At the heart of these proposals is the principle of responsibility that comes with all land ownership, and while there are many exemplary landowners in Scotland, the message is clear, it is no longer acceptable to own land in Scotland and not take the public responsibilities that come with that ownership seriously. I know this Bill will be good for the people of Scotland, will encourage greater public interest and participation in land and help our communities reach their potential.”
Notes to Editors:
The Bill can be found here: