Author: Sara Smith

Scottish Land Commission invites Bute residents to community event

The Scottish Land Commission are heading to the Isle of Bute to continue its calendar of public meeting’s.

The Scottish Land Commission is holding an informal public meeting to give residents on the Isle of Bute the opportunity to find out more about how their community can benefit from land reform.

The event is being held at United Church of Bute, Rothesay on Wednesday 24 April 2019 at 7pm.

Chair of the Scottish Land Commission, Andrew Thin, said:

“Land is at the heart of Scotland’s identity, economy and communities – so it matters that it is owned and used in a fair and productive way.  We are keen to meet with communities to discuss the work we are doing to deliver change so that the ownership and use of land realises Scotland’s potential. There are many benefits it can bring to you and your community including transforming vacant and derelict land, community ownership, community engagement in decisions relating to land and unlocking opportunities through modernising land ownership.

“We will also be discussing our recently published report investigation into the issues associated with large scale and concentrated land ownership in Scotland. The report was published last month alongside recommendations to Scottish Ministers to address the adverse effects identified, and to stimulate a more productive, diverse and dynamic pattern of rural land ownership.

“This is one of a number of public meetings taking place across Scotland throughout the year from Aberdeen to Kirkcaldy and Paisley to Perth and we hope to meet as many people as possible. I would encourage everyone to attend and make the most of the opportunity to discuss how we can make more of Scotland’s land for Scotland’s people.”

The event is free and tea and coffee will be provided. For more information visit www.landcommission.gov.scot, call 01463 423 300 or email info@landcommission.gov.scot.

Tenant Farming Commissioner publishes Conduct of Agents Guide

Scotland’s Tenant Farming Commissioner (TFC), Bob McIntosh, has today published a Guide to the Professional Conduct of Agents and How to make a Complaint.

The guide is to help landlords and tenants to understand what standards of conduct they should expect from a professional agent, and the actions that they should take to help ensure that any instances of poor conduct are addressed promptly and effectively.

It has been developed as part of the recommendations made by the TFC to Scottish Ministers following a review of the conduct of agents of agricultural landlords and tenants.

The review found that landlords and tenants were generally satisfied by the conduct of agents working on their behalf but less so with that of agents acting on behalf of the other party. Overall, 17 per cent of both landlords and tenants were dissatisfied with the conduct of an agent and dissatisfaction was generally linked to behaviour rather than to any lack of technical or legal knowledge on the part of the agent.

The professional standards and the codes of practice, along with the associated complaints systems, should ensure that agents can be held to account in most circumstances where there is a failure in respect of conduct or standard of service but in practice few such complaints are made.

Bob McIntosh explains “The professional standards and complaint systems have an important part to play in driving up standards and dealing with bad practice, so it is vital that the system is widely understood and is readily accessible.

“This guide provides a handy checklist for anyone considering employing a professional agent, some general principles of good practice that should always be followed and information about how to make a complaint.

“Most agents perform their duties in a professional manner but the actions of a small minority can have a disproportionate effect on the reputation of the agent, their employers or their profession.  It is important that landlords and tenants do complain about the unacceptable conduct of agents so that standards can be raised and poor behaviour addressed.”

The Guide is available at https://landcommission.gov.scot/tenant-farming/codes-of-practice/

Land owner survey looks at community engagement

The Scottish Land Commission is opening a survey to look at how community engagement in decisions relating to land is currently undertaken in Scotland and wanting to hear from anyone with control over the way land is used or managed.

The Land Commission is supporting  land owners, land managers and communities to work together to make better – and fairer – decisions about land use with the publication of its first Protocol on Community Engagement in Decisions Relating to Land.

Clear and open community engagement in decisions relating to land can bring benefits to all parties involved creating better opportunities to engage, understand and influence potential change and opportunities.

The Commission’s Protocol supports the Guidance on engaging communities in decisions relating to land, which was published by the Scottish Government in April last year.  As part of this work the Commission wants to review the effectiveness of the guidance by taking a snapshot of how community engagement is currently undertaken in Scotland.  This will be used to find out more about the current level and measure the effectiveness of community engagement by those who own or manage land.

Helen Barton, Community Engagement Advisor at the Scottish Land Commission explains:

“We want to hear from anyone with control over the way land is used or managed in both urban and rural Scotland. The survey is relevant for all private and public sector owners of land and buildings, including individuals, companies, charities and trusts, non-governmental organisations and community owners. It is also relevant to tenants of any sort who have control over land.

“The information provided will not include any personal identifying information and we will collate and analyse the responses to see where there are trends by area and sector.

“It is important to get an idea of what community engagement is happening now to not only use as a baseline measure but also to see if there are any lessons we can learn from current practices.”

In the survey, the Commission will also be looking to find out how many respondents are aware of the Scottish Government’s guidance as well as the Commission’s own Protocol for Community Engagement, which sets out general and specific expectations for owners and managers of land.

The survey will be open for responses until the end of May 2019 and can be found here:  www.landcommission.gov.scot/communityengagement

https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/GJI0O/ 

Agreement reached over Borders tenant farmer

The Scottish Tenant Farming Commissioner announced today that a solution had been found to enable a tenant farmer to remain on a farm he rented from Buccleuch Estates.

David and Alison Telfer occupy Cleuchfoot Farm on Buccleuch’s Borders Estate on a short-limited duration tenancy.

The estate had granted a new tenancy until November 2019 – 21 months beyond the end date of the previous lease – and had put the farm and adjoining hill ground up for sale. The couple wished to remain on the farm until retirement and said they had received a verbal assurance from the previous Duke of Buccleuch.

Buccleuch approached the Tenant Farming Commissioner and the acquirer of the land, James Jones & Sons Ltd, in an effort to find a solution.

Bob McIntosh, Tenant Farming Commissioner, said: “Landlords are entitled to resume land at the end of a fixed term tenancy but there was an extraordinary set of circumstances in this case where there was a dispute over what had been discussed in years gone by in terms of the length of occupancy. We are pleased that, through collaborative discussion, a satisfactory outcome has been achieved for the tenant, the new landlord and all other parties.”

Mr David Telfer said: “We appreciate the efforts of all those involved who have worked to find a resolution to this issue and we are pleased to be able to continue to live and work on at least part of Cleuchfoot until our retirement.”

Benny Higgins, executive chairman of Buccleuch, commented: “We were pleased that our proposal found agreement with all the parties involved and thank the Tenant Farming Commissioner for his constructive liaison with the tenant.”

Public Meeting – Mull, 30 September 2019

Public Meeting: An Roth Community Centre, Mull – Monday 30 September 2019, 7pm

Come along and find out how your community can benefit from:

  • transforming vacant and derelict land
  • community ownership
  • community engagement in decisions relating to land
  • modernising land ownership

This is a free event and tea & coffee will be provided.

For more information please contact us on: info@landcommission.gov.scot or 01463 423 300

Highland student receives Scottish Land Commission award

A Highland student has just received a £1,000 award to further her research into ownership and management of rural land.

Awarded by the Scottish Land Commission, through the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI), the award will allow Alison Martin to attend a conference in London later this year where she hopes to present a paper on aspects of her research.

Alison is undertaking a PhD at Inverness College UHI to investigate the governance and ownership of rural land in Scotland, specifically focused on decision-making around rewilding initiatives and species reintroductions. 

The new Scottish Land Commission Student Award was offered this year to University of the Highlands and Islands students as part of the Commission’s drive to encourage more research work to support land reform. There are plans to extend the award across other universities and research institutions in Scotland.

Speaking about the award, Hamish Trench, CEO of The Scottish Land Commission said, “We want to help build future research capacity to support land reform. Our work programme covers a wide range of issues – everything from land value tax to community ownership – and as part of that we’re looking to the academic community in Scotland to help us gather evidence, spark debate and develop new approaches, to make the most of Scotland’s land. Alison’s chosen focus is very relevant to practical implementation of community engagement and land rights and responsibilities in land use decision making.”

Alison said, “Rewilding is a very contemporary issue and associated activities – especially species reintroduction – are a significant development in land use, land management and conservation. 

“Currently in Scotland a range of initiatives are underway which to a greater or lesser extent constitute rewilding but we currently lack a clear structure for how rewilding decisions are made and implemented – and by whom.

“This all sits within the very unique context of Scottish land ownership, the Land Reform agenda and a push for greater community involvement based on underlying principles around human rights and land use for common good.

“Attending the conference will give me my first experience of talking to an audience about my research and exposure to current research and interaction with others that’s difficult to achieve through reading alone.”

Alison Wilson, Head of Development at the University of the Highlands and Islands, added: “We are very grateful to the Scottish Land Commission for enabling Alison to take up this fantastic opportunity. Students are at the heart of what we do and we want to help them achieve all they can. We are delighted that more and more organisations and individuals are looking to support our students in this way.”

Scottish Land Commission invites Edinburgh residents to community event

The Scottish Land Commission is continuing its calendar of public meetings with the next taking place in Edinburgh.

The Scottish Land Commission is holding an informal public meeting to give people from Edinburgh the opportunity to find out more about how their community can benefit from land reform.

The event is being held at Riddles Court Tuesday 2 April 2019 at 7pm.

Chair of the Scottish Land Commission, Andrew Thin, said:

“Land is at the heart of Scotland’s identity, economy and communities – so it matters that it is owned and used in a fair and productive way.  We are keen to meet with communities to discuss the work we are doing to deliver change so that the ownership and use of land realises Scotland’s potential. There are many benefits it can bring to you and your community including transforming vacant and derelict land, community ownership, community engagement in decisions relating to land and unlocking opportunities through modernising land ownership.

“We will also be discussing our recently published report investigation into the issues associated with large scale and concentrated land ownership in Scotland. The report was published last week alongside recommendations to Scottish Ministers to address the adverse effects identified, and to stimulate a more productive, diverse and dynamic pattern of rural land ownership.

“This is one of a number of public meetings taking place across Scotland throughout the year from Aberdeen to Kirkcaldy and Paisley to Perth and we hope to meet as many people as possible. I would encourage everyone to attend and make the most of the opportunity to discuss how we can make more of Scotland’s land for Scotland’s people.”

The event is free and tea and coffee will be provided. For more information visit www.landcommission.gov.scot, call 01463 423 300 or email info@landcommission.gov.scot

Tenant Farming Commissioner publishes Tree Planting Guide

Scotland’s Tenant Farming Commissioner (TFC), Bob McIntosh, has today published a Guide to Tree Planting on Tenanted Agricultural Holdings.

The guide provides information for landlords and tenants who might be considering planting trees on tenanted agricultural holdings.

With the current economic uncertainty surrounding agriculture, and increased pressure on business margins, more farm businesses are looking to diversify in to a range of different non-agricultural activities to support the future of the business. This, along with a focus by Scottish Government on increasing woodland in Scotland, is causing more farmers and landowners to consider the pros and cons of woodland creation.

This guide outlines the rights of both tenants and landlords  to plant trees and provides information on applying for permission to plant.

It is important that tenants and landlords considering planting trees use this guide to understand their rights, comments TFC Bob McIntosh.

“The guide highlights four basic scenarios where tenants and landlords are likely to see tree planting on holdings as valuable and provides clarity on who is able to do what and when.

“A tenant of a secure tenancy or a limited duration tenancy wishing to use the land for a non-agricultural purpose such as tree planting can now do so provided they obtain written consent for the diversification activity.”

In welcoming the publication of the new guidance, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing added:

“This is very welcome advice and will help in the national endeavour to expand our forests and woodlands in Scotland.

“Tenant farmers can gain many benefits from new tree planting on their holdings, especially as it can help to improve their business and diversify their income.

“I’m keen to see a growth in woodland cover across Scotland but it needs to be carried out in an integrated way with other land uses. This simple and clear guide helps to lay out for both landowners and tenants how new woodlands could work for them and the benefits that can potentially be realised by all parties from planting trees in the right places.”

The Guide also provides important information about waygo compensation which the landlord or the tenant may be entitled to upon termination of the lease.”

The Guide is available at https://landcommission.gov.scot/tenant-farming/codes-of-practice/

Public Meeting – Islay, 4 September 2019

Public Meeting: Ionad Chalium Chille Ile, Bowmore, Islay – Wednesday 4th September 2019, 7pm

Come along and find out how your community can benefit from:

  • transforming vacant and derelict land
  • community ownership
  • community engagement in decisions relating to land
  • modernising land ownership

This is a free event and tea & coffee will be provided.

For more information please contact us on: info@landcommission.gov.scot or 01463 423 300

Public Meeting – Gairloch, 28 May 2019

Public Meeting: Gairloch Community Hall – Tuesday 28 May 2019, 7pm

Come along and find out how your community can benefit from:

  • transforming vacant and derelict land
  • community ownership
  • community engagement in decisions relating to land
  • modernising land ownership

This is a free event and tea & coffee will be provided.

For more information please contact us on: info@landcommission.gov.scot or 01463 423 300