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Scottish Government passes 'landmark' legislation for land reform

A monumental day for Scotland’s tenant farmers as the Land Reform (Scotland) Bill is passed in a stage three debate.

Alice   Singleton

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Alice   Singleton
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Richard Lochhead announced the passing of the Bill as a 'significant moment'.
Richard Lochhead announced the passing of the Bill as a 'significant moment'.

Scottish Parliament today passed the bill to transform how land is used and governed, a move the Minister for Environment has defined a ’landmark moment’.

 

 

The Land Reform (Scotland) Bill will:  

 

  • Allow Ministers to create a public register of those with a controlling interest in land and increase the transparency around land ownership
  • Encourage and support responsible, diverse land ownership
  • Address issues of fairness, equality and social justice connected to the ownership of, access to and use of land in Scotland
  • Introduce a new process to sell or assign farm tenancies, creating a secure route out of farming for those without a successor

 

After the stage three debate, Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Dr Aileen McLeod said:

 

"The passing of the Land Reform Bill is a landmark moment in our land reform journey.

 

"It is a result of many years of work to ensure our land is owned and used in the public interest and for the benefit of the people of Scotland.

 

Important changes

 

"This radical legislation will make important changes to specific rights and responsibilities over land, including provisions to increase the transparency of land ownership, which have never before been seen in this country.

 

"It will allow us to provide guidance to landowners and tenants and allow communities to be involved when decisions are taken about land. The Bill will also remove the existing exemption of business rates for shooting estates and deer forests."

 

See also: Landlord confidence falls amid sharp drop in let land

 

Future generations

 

But Dr McLeod said this was not the end of the land reform journey.

 

"This is a significant next step, but is not the end of our land reform journey - I want to do even more to help future generations benefit from our land," she added.

 

"Going forward we will establish the Scottish Land Commission, publish a Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement and continue our work towards our one million acre target to community ownership by 2020.”

 

'Significant moment'

 

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and the Environment, Richard Lochhead commented on the agricultural holdings part of the Bill, stating it as a 'major step forward for tenant farmers'.

 

He said: "This ambitious and radical Bill is a significant moment in how Scotland's land is owned, used, governed and managed to best deliver for the people of Scotland.

 

"The package of measures included in the Bill will improve security and investment conditions for existing tenants, deliver the environment to create opportunities for new entrants and to ensure an appropriate balance between tenants’ and landlords’ rights in the context of the wider public interest.

 

"It will also revitalise the sector by creating new routes into farming and providing the flexibility for businesses to grow. Our tenant farmers are an important part of agriculture which in turn is the foundation of our booming food and drink industry, this Bill will help ensure the tenanted sector has a vibrant future in Scotland.”

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