Conservation and Land use

Scrap and redraft the Land Reform Bill?

*April 2024

Anyone with an interest in advancing the cause of land reform may well be somewhat underwhelmed by the latest Bill. Indeed some have argued that rather than engage with the next stage ( an invitation to submit evidence), the response should be to call for the Bill to be scrapped and redrafted. Assuming that that is unlikely to happen, it’s nonetheless important that as many voices as possible are heard at this early stage in the process of it becoming legislation. Scottish Community Alliance has produced a briefing on the Bill which could help to inform some of these responses.

Briefing summary                        Full briefing document


More calls for stronger Land Reform bill

*March 2024

The recent delayed publication of the Scottish Government's Land Reform bill brings renewed calls for its provisions to be strengthened. Dr Calum MacLeod makes a robust critique in the West Highland Free Press, and the ever-vigilant Andy Wightman lays the foundation for a promised new analysis of the bill with a  'Who Owns Scotland 2024?'  blog about the current state of landowning in Scotland.


*January 2024

Calls to strengthen delayed Land reform Bill 

Following the consultation 'Land Reform for a Net Zero Nation' carried out between July and October 2022, the Scottish Government's new Land reform bill was to have been introduced by the end of 2023, but has been delayed until the spring of 2024. 

The Scottish Government's outline proposals for the bill are contained in the 2022 consultation document, and useful information about the origins of the proposals and the reactions to them are contained in a series of articles from the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe).

At the same time influential voices are calling for the bill's expected provisions to be significantly strengthened.

Wellbeing Economy Alliance Scotland            letter to ministers

This spring, the Land Reform Bill is due to be introduced to the Scottish Parliament.  Ahead of this, a group of organisations have joined together to write an open letter to the Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing Economy, Neil Gray, and Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands, Mairi Gougeon, expressing their concerns and calling for bold action.

Future Economy Scotland          report by Laurie Macfarlane

An item in a recent Scottish Community Alliance newsletter recommends this detailed report on the land reform issue - 'If you only read the first four pages, it’s really worth it.'

Scottish Rural Network              article and links

Another move towards land reform going further than the Scottish Government's proposals comes in the form of a proposal by Mercedes Villalba MSP to introduce a Member's Bill which in her words  'will legislate for the introduction of a presumed limit on land ownership, the strengthening of regulation of Scotland’s land market and the creation of a public interest test for land sales and transfers.'

Consultation on Ms Villalba's proposal took place between June and September 2023, and it is likely that a bill will be drafted and introduced to Parliament in due course.  The proposed limit (initially on land sales) would be 500 hectares - compared to the threshold for regulation of 3000 hectares in the government's proposals - and responsibility for determining and enacting the public interest test would be entrusted to the Scottish Land Commission.

Read the consultation document

Yet another contribution to the land reform debate comes in the form of a blog by Andy Wightman stating his intention to publish a Land Reform Bill that will go far beyond the existing proposals by proposing how to democratise land governance. It’s an ambitious counterpoint to the expected underwhelming content of the Scottish Government’s Bill.

All the current activity around land reform was started by recommendations from the Scottish Land Commission in response to a request from the Scottish Government in 2021.  There is a large amount of useful information on the subject on their website.


July 2023

Land reform Bill update

A bill does not yet seem to have been introduced.

Analysis of the consultation, which ran from July to October 2022

Consultation analysis report  2 June 2023

Scottish Community Alliance's  consultation response

Community Land Scotland  Opinion piece by Peter Peacock

Scottish Parliament debate  on a member's motion  23 June 2023

See links to the government's 2022 consultation paper and contributions from Scottish Land Commission and Andy Wightman in the item below.

July 2022

Scottish Government consultation on new Land Reform Bill

The Scottish Government has published a consultation paper on  'Land reform in a Net Zero Nation'  prior to introducing a new Land Reform Bill.   In her ministerial foreword Màiri McAllan MSP, Minister for Environment and Land Reform, writes 

The use and ownership of Scotland’s land is one of the central issues for the future of our environment, our society and our economy.

Addressing the historical position of large parts of Scotland being owned and used in ways determined not by communities that live on them, but by landowners, often based outwith Scotland, has been a theme of devolution since the first Parliament.

As a result of the Land Reform Acts of 2003 and 2016 and the passage of the Community Empowerment Act of 2015, Scotland has taken significant steps forward in supporting and enabling communities to have greater opportunity to own or to influence the use of the land on which they live.

I am proud of Scotland’s record of progressive and innovative reform. But the journey is not complete.  It is now time to take the next steps in this journey of land reform and to respond to the social, environmental and economic issues we now face.

Over this Parliament, first the Land Reform Bill, and then a Community Wealth Building Bill, will continue the legislative journey of land reform and community ownership.

Scottish Land Commission proposals
The Scottish Land Commission was established in April 2017, after the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016 came into force.  Under its remit 'to review the effectiveness and impact of our laws and policies relating to land, and to make recommendations to Scottish Ministers on future land reform'  it has published information papers and made recommendations to the Government regarding the content of the proposed new bill.

Prominent land use campaigner Andy Wightman has published two blog articles on the Government's proposals, in which he shares the views of other commentators that they do not go far enough to address the underlying problems of land use and ownership in Scotland.  In an article for Holyrood  magazine he accuses the  government of 'tinkering at the edges' of the land reform problem.

The consultation process and further information
Land Reform Bill consultation paper
Consultation opened on 4 July and closed on 30 October 2022.

'Citizen Space' overview of land reform and video from the minister.

A wider view of Scottish Government policies on land reform


July 2022

Regional Land Use Partnerships and NorthWest2045

In February 2021 the Scottish Government announced the setting up of an number of pilot Regional Land Use Partnerships.  A Scottish Government blog said

Regional Land Use Partnerships are being piloted to help develop Scotland’s approach to land use in support of our green recovery and transition to net-zero.

The Partnerships will help national and local government, communities, land owners and stakeholders work together to find ways to optimise land use in a fair and inclusive way – meeting local and national objectives and supporting the journey to net zero.
They will be piloted in:

• Cairngorms National Park
• Highland Council
• Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park
• North East Region (Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City Councils)
• South of Scotland (Dumfries and Galloway and Scottish Borders Councils)

The Scottish Government will work with the pilot groups to test approaches to partnership governance that best suit the local situation and priorities. This will help inform future decisions on wider establishment of Partnerships.

A susccessful application to set up and develop the partnership in the Highland area was made by NorthWest2045, a project rather than an organisation, which includes Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Scottish Land Commission, and a range of national, regional and local environmental and community groups.

So far NorthWest2045 have appointed a Project Officer and engaged consultants to conduct a 'natural capital assessment' for the north west Highland region.  They gave a summary of their formation and progress to date in July 2022.

Scottish Land Commission recommendations to Ministers 2020

Scottish Government announcement February 2021

NorthWest2045 progress summary July 2022

NorthWest2045 website

North west Sutherland Settlement Officer appointed  November 2022


November 2019

News from Conservation Scotland

As a result of our membership of SCCAN (Scottish Communities Climate Action Network) we have recently received an email from Nathan Roberts of Conservation Scotland

"The aim of Conservation Scotland is to increase engagement in activities which are free, open to all, and good for nature. This could be a public outreach event, training day or workshop, or could be practical volunteering.  Essentially, the website helps organisations and individuals find each other, so that together they can achieve more positive conservation outcomes in Scotland.  Activities go straight into the calendar making it easy for interested individuals to know what good they can do for nature in their area on a particular day.

"Conservation Scotland is a community of organisations, including RSPB Scotland, Pentland Hills Regional Park, Take One Action Film Festivals, and Polbeth and West Calder Community Garden. New organisations are welcome to join and add events which are free, open to all, and good for nature.  I would like to therefore invite you, your colleagues and your volunteers and participants to consider joining this community at to start sharing and finding new opportunities... for free, of course. Events added online will also go out into the weekly email to all interested individuals, as well as out on social media. The Conservation Scotland email is sent out every Friday.
.   .   .   .   
"A good overview of the initiative and the downloadable Annual Reviews can now be found at - it shows that our current members want more attention on climate action."


Scottish Land Reform Bill passed  16 March 2016

Getting the best from our land
A Land Use Strategy for Scotland
2016 - 2021

Laid before the Scottish Parliament by the Scottish Ministers on 22 March 2016 
in pursuance of Section 57 of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 

In her introduction to the Scottish Government's Land Use strategy, Environment Minister Aileen McLeod writes:

In 2011 we published Scotland’s first Land Use Strategy. We were optimistic about its potential impact and hopeful that stakeholders would begin to embrace the direction of travel. The past five years have exceeded our expectations in terms of just how much we have achieved and the strength of support for our policies. Not only have we delivered against the proposals set out in the first Land Use Strategy, we have initiated and completed two highly successful land use pilot projects and our work has been showcased across the UK and in Europe.
The last five years have also seen the Scottish Parliament further develop the policy framework around land use. The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 and the Land Reform (Scotland) Bill build on the Objectives and Principles within the Land Use Strategy. Together they will put communities at the heart of decision making and result in real improvements in how land in Scotland is owned, used and

Read the full document.


Latest News...

Cycle Routes Blackisle.
Highland Liftshare. Sign up for free now

TBI Business Directory

Add Your Business

Do you run a sustainable business on or near the Black Isle? Add it to the TBI business directory

Spread The Word...

We are part of the rapidly expanding worldwide Transition Towns movement. The Black Isle is a peninsula of about 100 sq miles ENE of Inverness in Scotland, UK.