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.”
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.
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.”