Conservation and Land use
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 closes on 30 October.
'Citizen Space' overview of land reform, video from the minister, and link to submit your views
A wider view of Scottish Government policies on land reform
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
North west Sutherland Settlement Officer appointed November 2022
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 https://conservationscotland.interests.me/ 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 www.whyconserve.com/scotland - 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.
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