Controversial SNP land reform bill introduced


LAND Reform Minster Aileen McLeod has pledged to end “the stop start nature of historic land reform” with the publication of legislation today.

The new land reform 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.”

Estates will lose their tax breaks
Estates will lose their tax breaks


This includes giving communities a right to buy land to further sustainable development, which applies in both urban and rural Scotland.

The bill would also end rates exemption for shooting and deerstalking estates and make “improvements” to the right to roam system.

According to a government spokesperson: “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.

Land Reform Minister, Dr. Aileen McLeod, outlined details of the Land Reform Bill today during a visit to Carluke Development Trust, she said: “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 we want 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.

Conservatives say the legislation will mean job losses for estate workers
Conservatives say the legislation will mean job losses for estate workers


But the Scottish Conservatives warned against the bill, saying it will result in job losses in rural areas.

They claim that the end of tax relief for sporting estates would result in significant job losses, and that new legislation would “force landowners to sell their land if Edinburgh-based ministers decide they are not using it in the way they wish.”

Scottish Conservative Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Murdo Fraser said: “These proposals once again demonstrate this central belt Scottish Government is out of touch with the priorities of rural communities.

“Instead, the SNP is ignoring the evidence and pursuing an ideologically-driven agenda which will jeopardise the rural economy.

“These proposals would lead to greater government interference in land ownership and an increase in the tax burden on rural businesses.

“The Scottish Government has been warned that this will cost jobs, but has ignored those warnings.”


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    – why the FRALT would encourage more investment in land than the Land Value Tax (LVT)

    The value of a plot of land does increase depending on whether the land is drained, cleared of rubble or waste, levelled off, whether a public or private road, or water or power-supply is built nearby, what else is built in the neighbourhood, whether a test-bore discovers something valuable in the ground, and other investments short of building a property on top of the land in question.

    Land has value according to what someone will pay for it and that’s a very variable amount. Also once something has been built on land, the value of the land cannot be long distinguished with the value of the improved land including the property built upon it because neither can be bought or sold without the other.

    So a Land Value Tax is complex and it requires a whole army of tax assessors to pontificate about what “the value of land plot 142353” is etc.

    The beauty of the Fixed-Rate Area Land Tax is its simplicity, reliability and fairness to investors who never get hammered with more tax because they’ve done the right thing and invested in the land.

    If the Fixed-Rate Area Land Tax is administered as a local authority or council tax (which I support) then each council would be free to set their own FRALT.

    So Highland Council, setting the FRALT for its population density of 9 persons/sq-km would most likely set a lower rate than East Lothian Council with a population density of 144 persons/sq-km.

    So for example, Highland may set a FRALT of £0.50/month/1,000sq-m but East Lothian might set a FRALT of £8/month/1,000sq-m.

    It is a design feature of the Fixed-Rate Area Land Tax that the lowest value land will not, at present, sustain the level of taxation implied even by a local-council FRALT and so holding on to such land would be a loss-maker for the land-owner. It is precisely this loss which is intended to encourage the landowner to sell up his lowest value land to someone else who may have a new idea for how to make money on it.

    The Fixed-Rate Area Land Tax provides an incentive for those land-owners, who do not know exactly how to make enough money on land they own to be able to afford to pay the FRALT, to sell their land to someone who does know exactly.

    If the FRALT is not paid on a plot of land, the tax collecting authority will exist to seize ownership of that plot of land in lieu of payment of the due tax upon it and have a right to auction the land off to extract whatever value the land is worth.

    If the previous landowner cannot even make an offer for the land at auction himself then what was it worth to him or her, in the first place? Nothing, he or she was just hogging it because he or she could.

    – for best use of Scotland’s land.

  2. Underwhelmed by the Controversial SNP land reform bill – better than nothing but not as good as a Fixed-Rate Area Land Tax (FRALT) which would tax the land owner in direct proportion to the area of land – huge estate, huge tax.

    No soft “number of practical measures that will make a real difference to communities” mercy for the land-hogging estate landowners! Tax them until the pips squeak with a heavy-duty FRALT.

    When it’s land reform you need, reach for FRALT – the land tax that big estate landowners fear!

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