Category: News

Study to look at increasing the availability of farmland for new entrants

The Scottish Land Commission is commissioning a study looking at the possible options to increasing the availability of farmland for new entrants.

The average age of Scotland’s tenant farming population is increasing, with 37% of tenant farmers aged 65 and over. For a thriving farming sector there needs to be new entrants to drive innovation and best practice, improve efficiencies and contribute towards the economic vitality of the sector.

Recent studies have found that the one of the biggest issues facing new entrants to Scotland’s tenant farming sector is the lack of access to land. This work will look at new and alternative ways for increasing the availability of land for those who want to farm in Scotland.

The Tenant Farming Commissioner (TFC), Bob McIntosh, is working with the National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS) campaign New Generation, to engage with farmers to discuss the barriers to entry and provide guidance.

Bob McIntosh explains:

“This is an important body of work which will look at the current options for farmers and landowners for succession and retirement whilst providing business opportunities for new entrants.

“Working with NFUS we plan to hold a series of joint roadshows based on the guidance to encourage existing farmers and landowners who, in developing their own business interests, could offer opportunities for new entrants.

“A discussion paper has also been commissioned which will explore ways of stimulating the tenanted sector by the development of different approaches and incentives for the letting of land. This will be published in the new year and will also inform the discussions.

“It is important that this issue is discussed and addressed now to secure the future of a thriving and prosperous tenant farming sector.”

NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick said:

“Our New Generation Group has been very active this year, and continues to go from strength to strength. NFUS is looking at ways to keep up the momentum, and work towards finding solutions for the next generation wishing to get into farming, and the older generation wishing to step back.

“This work ties in with NFUS work on share farming, which we are very excited about.”

Completed quotes must be submitted via PCS by 12 noon on 18 January 2018.

 

Land Commission to look at potential for land value taxes in Scotland

The Scottish Land Commission is asking for tenders to investigate international experience in land value taxes to identify policy options for Scotland.

The Land Commission has issued a notice on Public Contracts Scotland (PCS) asking for contractors to submit tenders to carry out research in to the range of ways land value taxes have been used. This will inform future consideration of land value taxation options for Scotland based on the experiences of other countries.

Land value taxation is a tool for raising public revenue through an annual charge based on the rental value of land and typically levied against the unimproved value of that land not taking into account any buildings, services or infrastructure.

Chair of the Land Commission, Andrew Thin, said:

“Land value taxation has been an important element of the land reform debate in Scotland for several years and the Scottish Government has asked the Commission to look at the potential for land value based taxes.

“This initial work looks at how land value taxes have been used to realise relevant policy objectives elsewhere and what practical issues would need to be addressed in considering their use in Scotland.

“The work will also assess the potential of land value taxation in contributing to a more productive, accountable and diverse pattern of land ownership and use in Scotland. The final report, which is due to be submitted to the Commission in June 2018, will identify a set of potential policy options for further consideration.

“We are keen to stimulate discussion on if and how land value based taxes could help make more of Scotland’s land with stakeholders and amongst the general public. This important piece of work is the first step on that journey.”

Completed quotes must be submitted via PCS by 12:00 noon on the 19 January 2018.

Tenant Farming Commissioner makes recommendations for a modern list of improvements

Tenant Farming Commissioner makes recommendations for a modern list of improvements

Scotland’s Tenant Farming Commissioner (TFC), Bob McIntosh, has provided recommendations to Ministers for a modern list of improvements to agricultural holdings.

Schedule 5 of the Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act 1991 sets out a list of improvements which may be eligible for compensation when the tenant leaves the holding.  One of the functions of the TFC is to make recommendations for a modern list of improvements in consultation with stakeholders.

Bob McIntosh said;

“If tenants are to be encouraged to invest in a holding it is important that the list of improvements eligible for compensation is regularly updated to keep pace with changing technology and agricultural practices.

“It is some years now since the current list was created and some structures and practices which are readily accepted now as being legitimate improvements are not listed.

The recommendations include the addition of several new items and clarification of a number of items on the list.  I have also recommended that the list is reviewed regularly and any accepted changes be made relatively quickly in order to keep up with the changing pace of agriculture. This is an important step to encourage tenants and landlords to make improvements to a holding and contribute to a thriving tenant farming sector.”

The full recommendations can be found here https://landcommission.gov.scot/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Update-of-Schedule-5-Dec-2017.pdf

Discussion paper looks at land market intervention to increase housing supply in Scotland

The first in an independent series of discussion papers commissioned by the Scottish Land Commission, Land Lines, questions the level of intervention needed in Scotland’s land market.

‘The housing land market in Scotland: A discussion paper’  written by Laurie Macfarlane, Economics Editor at openDemocracy, addresses the “failure of housing supply in Scotland to keep up with demand” through public sector intervention to improve the operation of the land market and increase the supply of land for new housing.

The paper forms part of Land Lines, a series of discussion papers on key land reform issues. The Scottish Land Commission will be publishing the series of papers to stimulate public debate and contribute to discussions as Chair, Andrew Thin, explains:

“This is the first in an exciting series of discussion papers. The opinions expressed in the paper are independent of the Commissions and Laurie has posed a number of important questions to encourage the debate to continue.   We would welcome views on the paper and you can get in touch by either contacting the Commission directly, through our blog or at one of our events.  We are also continuing the discussion with key organisations and individuals in the sector.

“Land for housing and development is a key priority area of work for the Land Commission and this paper has helped by not only contributing to the debate but also by helping to identify important knowledge gaps.

“As part of this priority area of work the Commission will be looking how the development of land can make the most of it for the people living there and for Scotland. This includes ways to ensure cost-effective land supply for housing, how the increase in the value of land associated with development can be captured and reinvested and the different approaches for addressing the problem of vacant and derelict land.   All of which is working towards making more of Scotland’s land.”

 

Read Laurie’s guest blog and join the debate!

Scottish Land Commission – Conference

We held our first land reform conference on Thursday 28 September 2017 at the Carnegie Conference Centre, Dunfermline.

140 attendees joined us to look at the ‘The Vision of Land Reform 2022 and beyond’ and guest speakers included:

  • Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham
  • Laurie Macfarlane, Economics Editor at openDemocracy and co-author of the critically acclaimed book Rethinking the Economics of Land and Housing 
  • Sarah Skerratt, Professor of Rural Society & policy, Director of the Rural Policy Centre, SRUC

Workshop notes are available here.

Conference presentations: Sarah Skerratt, Laurie Macfarlane, Andrew Thin & Hamish Trench

Tenant Farming Commissioner invites landlords & tenants to take part in survey of views on agents’ conduct

Scotland’s Tenant Farming Commissioner, Bob McIntosh, is encouraging landlords and tenants to take part in a survey of views and experiences of the conduct of agents engaged to act on their behalf in matters relating to agricultural holdings.

The survey is part of the review of agents which the Tenant Farming Commissioner is tasked to complete under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016.  The Tenant Farming Commissioner must complete the review and make recommendations to Ministers to improve the operation of agents of landlords and tenants by March 2018.

The Scottish Land Commission has commissioned Research Resource, a social and economic research agency based in Glasgow, to carry out telephone interviews with a representative sample of tenant farmers and landlords to find out about their views and experiences with regard to the operation of agents.

Bob McIntosh said: “In order for the researchers to deliver a robust factual report it is important that we have a representative sample of both landlords and tenant farmers.

“Participating in the survey is entirely voluntary, but I would encourage both landlords and tenants to take part so that we can get a true understanding of the current situation with regard to the operation of agents and the impact it has on relations in the sector.

“Information provided will be completely confidential.  Research Resource will only report back results of the survey from tenant farmers and landlords overall and individual responses will not be traceable.

”The information will be collected and collated in an independent, open and fair manner and the findings will be discussed with key representative bodies before I make recommendations to Scottish Ministers.”

A representative sample of tenant farmers will also be interviewed and these will be selected from the Scottish Government’s agricultural census database.

If you are a landlord, who would like to be considered to take part in the survey, please note your interest here www.researchresource.co.uk/surveyofagents.html  or contact Lorna Shaw at Research Resource on 0141 641 6410  lorna.shaw@researchresource.co.uk.  The telephone interviews will take place from the end of October and throughout November and will take approximately 15 minutes.

 

Have a look at our FAQs about the survey to find out more.

Scottish Land Commission publishes first Strategic Plan

The newly formed Scottish Land Commission has published its first three year Strategic Plan.

The Land Commission published its first Strategic Plan at its conference held today, Thursday 28 September 2017, in Dunfermline.

The Strategic Plan ‘Making More of Scotland’s Land’ sets out the priorities for the Land Commission focusing on four key areas covering both urban and rural land:

  • Land for housing and development  – We want to reduce constraints to redeveloping vacant and derelict land for housing and other productive uses, improve land supply for housing and stimulate a more active approach to developing land in the public interest.
  • Land ownership – The Land Commission will examine the impacts of scale and concentration of land ownership and tax policy, as well as reviewing the effectiveness of the Community Right to Buy mechanisms.
  • Land Use Decision-making – The Land Commission will seek to improve the quality and accountability of decision making, providing guidance where necessary.
  • Agricultural Holdings – We want to increase access to land for those who want to farm, improve the relationships between landowners and tenant farmers and stimulate the tenant farming sector.

The Scottish Land Commission, established under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016, has a statutory function to review and advise on legislative and policy change, but it is the leadership role the organisation can play which is as equally important as Chair of the Scottish Land Commission, Andrew Thin, explains:

“The establishment of the Scottish Land Commission has provided the Scottish people with a mechanism to drive forward land reform and this ambitious Strategic Plan shows that we are committed to accelerating the process and tackling the most important matters.

“We want to change and shape best practice for the ownership, management and use of Scotland’s land, working with all sectors to achieve changes on the ground as well as recommending changes to legislation and policy where necessary.

“Our goal is to improve the productivity, diversity and accountability of the way we use land, making more of Scotland’s land for Scotland’s people.”

Cabinet Secretary for Land Reform Roseanna Cunningham said:

“Scotland’s land is one of our most valuable assets, and it is only right that everyone benefits from it. I am therefore delighted with the focus of the Commission’s Strategic Plan, which alongside the Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement published today, will set the pace and direction for land reform over the years to come.”

Read our Strategic Plan

Tenant Farming Commissioner issues Limited Partnerships Code of Practice

Scotland’s Tenant Farming Commissioner, Bob McIntosh, has issued a Code of Practice to be followed by landowners, tenant farmers and land agents.

The Code of Practice for Planning the Future of Limited Partnerships is the second to be published by the Commissioner under the authority of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016.

The Tenant Farming Commissioner (TFC) is responsible for issuing a suite of codes to guide and shape the behaviours and processes which accompany the interactions and negotiations between landlords and tenants, including agents and intermediaries acting for either party.

Bob McIntosh said:

‘’The aim of this code of practice is to minimise uncertainty for both parties in a Limited Partnership when it is approaching its dissolution date. The code describes what steps should be taken, by both the tenant farmer and the landlord, when discussing future arrangements for the partnership.

“Limited Partnerships have served the tenant farming sector well, but following the passing of the Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act 2003 they now have restricted use. There are over 500 limited partnerships still in existence and many are reaching their dissolution date.  It is important that discussions take place with plenty of time for both parties involved to discuss their aspirations before a final decision is agreed to the future of the partnership.

“I have worked closely with the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association, NFU Scotland, Scottish Land & Estates and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in developing this code so that, wherever possible, agreed positions are reasonable and fair to both landlords and tenant farmers.

“As with all codes issued by the Tenant Farming Commissioner, if a landlord or tenant feels that the other party, or an agent of that party, has acted in a way that breaches the code of practice they are able to make a complaint to the Commissioner.“

The Code of Practice for Planning for the Future of Limited Partnerships can be found on the Land Commission’s website www.landcommission.gov.scot/tenant-farming/codes-of-practice/.

Review of agents begins

Tenant Farming Commissioner starts work on the review of the conduct of agents of landlords and tenants

 Scotland’s Tenant Farming Commissioner, Bob McIntosh, has begun work on the review of agents. The review will look at the views and experiences of tenant farmers and landlords with regard to the conduct of professionals engaged by either party to act on their behalf in matters relating to agricultural holdings.

Under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016, the Tenant Farming Commissioner must complete the review and make recommendations to Ministers to improve the operation of agents of landlords and tenants by March 2018.

Bob McIntosh explains:

“This is our first substantial piece of research and it is important that a broad range of evidence is collected on the views and experiences of landlords and tenants regarding their satisfaction with the conduct of agents acting on their behalf.

“This research will help to get a true understanding of the current situation with regard to the operation of agents and the impact it has on relations in the sector. The findings from the completed report with be discussed with key representative bodies, who will be given the opportunity to make submissions to inform the review, before recommendations are made to Scottish Ministers.”

The Scottish Land Commission has issued a notice on Public Contracts Scotland asking for contractors to submit tenders to carry out this important piece of research. More information on the contract specifications can be found here: www.publiccontractsscotland.gov.uk.

New staff join growing Scottish Land Commission

Three new members of staff have joined the newly formed Scottish Land Commission.

 

Joining the growing organisation, which was officially established on the 1 April 2017, are Sarah Allen as Head of Policy & Research – Tenant Farming, Shona Glenn as Head of Policy & Research – Land and Sara Smith as Communications & Events Assistant.

 

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

 

“The Commissioners and I would like to welcome Sarah, Shona and Sara to the team. We are delighted to see the organisation growing and adding to the wealth of skills and knowledge the Commission has.

 

“Sarah and Shona have an extremely important role, working with the new Chief Executive, Hamish Trench, to develop the Commission’s programme of research and Codes of Practice. I look forward to working with Commissioners, staff and stakeholders to implement our three year Strategic Plan.

 

“This is an exciting time for the Land Commission and adding to our complement of staff will ensure we can successfully drive forward the land reform agenda.”

 

Sarah Allen, Head of Policy & Research – Tenant Farming

Sarah Allen has worked as a self-employed rural development consultant for several years including working on projects defining vulnerable areas in relation to less favoured area support, conducting a review of Argyll agricultural forum and developing a food and drink network. Sarah is also a retained agricultural consultant for the Highland Council providing input and advice on a range of farming and crofting issues.  Sarah was a member of the Crofters Commission Board for 7 years and subsequently chaired the Scottish Government’s review of the bull hire scheme.

 

Shona Glenn, Head of Policy & Research – Land

Shona is an economist with more than 10 years research experience spanning the public and private sectors. She joins the Scottish land Commission from Biggar Economics, an independent consultancy that works across the UK and Europe.  In the role she was responsible for carrying out socio-economic impact assessments for a wide range of developments ranging from wind farms to housing.  Prior to this Shona was part of the economic development team within the City of Edinburgh Council where she was responsible for monitoring the economic performance of the city centre and a programme of culture change to encourage greater collaboration between planners and developers.

Sara Smith, Communications & Events Assistant

Sara joins the Land Commission from a project support role at the Highland Council. Sara has extensive communications and events experience working in a number of different roles at the Cairngorms National Park Authority including Assistant Communications Officer and Project Management Support Officer.