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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Holyrood Committee Seeks Views on The Land Reform Bill

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Holyrood’s Net Zero, Energy & Transport Committee has today launched a call for views to support its scrutiny of the Scottish Government’s Land Reform Bill.  

The Bill sets out reforms which aim to change the pattern of land ownership in rural and island communities and impose new requirements on larger estates across Scotland.

Reforms include, for example, that the sale of land, by those owning over 1,000 hectares, may be disallowed until Ministers have considered the impact on local communities. 

Landowners may be required to break up their land into smaller ‘lots’ when selling, and provide advance notice of pending sales, to encourage interest from communities.  

The Bill also requires the Scottish Government to introduce a model lease for environmental purposes which is intended to enable tenants to carry out a wide range of environmental land management activities, including sustainable and regenerative farming.  

In relation to small landholdings and agricultural tenancies, it lays out various provisions which the Scottish Government say will help to modernise the law.

These include, for example, introducing a ‘pre-emptive right to buy’ for small landholders, and changes to the processes around diversifying land use in relation to the tenancy, rent reviews, and determining claims at the end of a tenancy. 

Overall, the Scottish Government says that its underlying vision is for “a Scotland with a strong and dynamic relationship between its land and people, where all land contributes to a modern, sustainable and successful country, supports a just transition to net zero, and where rights and responsibilities in relation to land and its natural capital are fully recognised and fulfilled.” 

Speaking as the inquiry launched, Committee Convener, Edward Mountain MSP, said; 

“This Bill re-opens an important political debate about land; how it is used and managed; how it can contribute to Scotland’s environmental objectives and how it can be used to strengthen rural economies and communities. 

“We all want our rural communities and islands to thrive, and we all want to support sustainability.

“But we must make sure that the Bill takes account of the complexities around the economics of rural land ownership.

“Measures to rebalance landownership patterns must also be fair and proportionate. 

“Hearing the views of landowners and estate managers; tenant farmers, small landholders, community, and environmental stakeholders, will help us ensure that the proposals passed by this Parliament are workable for all.” 

The deadline for responding to the call for views is Tuesday 21 May.

The questions can, if preferred, be answered anonymously, and can be accessed via the link here: https://yourviews.parliament.scot/nzet/call-for-views-land-reform-bill/

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