Scottish Land and Estates
Musselburgh EH21 7PB
Buccleuch and Fixed Term Tenancies
Thank you for your letter to Andrew of 19th October. The Board have discussed the issues you raise at their meeting on 23rd and have asked me to respond to you.
I can be clear that the Land Commission fully supports the continued use of fixed term tenancy agreements, including Short Limited Duration Tenancies and recognises the landowner’s legal right to take land in hand when a tenancy expires.
The Commission does though expect decisions, including end of tenancy arrangements, to be made in a fair and responsible way in line with Codes of Practice and the Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement.
Andrew made two comments in response to a specific question about the particular situation of the Telfers and the Buccleuch sale. The first was to express our view that it would be reasonable to enable the Telfers to remain in occupation until retirement age. The second was to question whether the engagement with local communities has been as effective as might reasonably be expected, particularly given the scale of change and the clear expectations set out in the Guidance on Engaging Communities in Decisions About Land. These comments reflect our advice conveyed previously to Buccleuch.
These comments were given in relation to the particular case in question and were not intended, and should not be interpreted, as implying any wider policy position about SLDTs.
I should also confirm that we have not questioned or criticised land use change on Buccleuch or elsewhere. In fact we recognise that land use change is going to be inherent in making more productive use of land and in moving to a more diverse pattern of ownership. This dynamic process of change emphasises all the more the need for effective community engagement and a responsible approach to ensuring the legitimate interests of all relevant parties are taken into account.
Bob is currently developing a Code of Practice on lease agreement and management which will set out what can reasonably be expected of both parties in a responsible approach to handling tenancy agreements. I hope that SL&E will be able to support this as with other Tenant Farming Commissioner Codes of Practice.
Commissioners would be happy to meet with you to explore the issues raised and I will be in touch shortly to suggest a number of dates that might be suitable.