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Land Reform Bill: large estates in the spotlight

Last week the call for evidence on the Land Reform Bill closed. We submitted our response, which can be viewed here.

In brief, we are not against the principle of the land management plan contained within the bill, but do not agree that the arbitrary figure of land over 1,000 hectares being deemed as a large estate. Over 40% of landholdings in Scotland would fall under this category, which suggests rather a lot of land management plans for the newly proposed Land and Communities Commissioner to review. We agree that there should be more transparency over how large landholders operate, but the legislation put forward under this bill will risk stagnating the rural property market and cause market uncertainty. Delays in rural land sales will likely occur to allow community groups to submit applications to buy part or all land in the sale of an estate. Lotting of estates will create yet further delays and could have a detrimental effect on the value of the land for sale.

The proposal to set-up the office for the Land and Communities Commissioner, giving them authority to fine estates that do not adhere to the land reform legislation, gives increased powers that no other commissioner has.

We have worked with our partner organisations to produce a coherent message to the Scottish Government. Large estates provide many benefits to local communities and the local economy as a whole. Research carried out by Scottish Land and Estates clearly show the benefits of rural estates to Scotland’s wellbeing and to enforce yet more bureaucracy onto them because they are of a certain size could be deemed unfair. Our Aim to Sustain partners also provide figures to show what the value of shooting can bring to Scotland’s economy. Careful consideration must be given to these factors as the bill passes through parliament.

Looking ahead, the Agriculture and Rural Communities Bill, Heat in Buildings Bill, the proposed Natural Environment Bill and Climate Change Bill will all have implications on how land is managed throughout the whole of Scotland. We seek to ensure that new legislation will not be damaging to rural communities and therefore, will not have a detrimental impact on our rural way of life. We welcome legislation to help protect the environment and biodiversity, but this should not be to the detriment of the health and wellbeing of people living and working in rural and remote areas of Scotland.


Read our consultation response

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