Tag: buccleuch

Scottish Land Commission’s response to SLE’s concerns about SLDT’s

David Johnstone
Scottish Land and Estates
Stuart House
Eskmills
Musselburgh EH21 7PB

 

Dear David

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.

 

Yours sincerely

Hamish Trench
Chief Executive

Tenant Farming Commissioner publishes Buccleuch Report

Scotland’s Tenant Farming Commissioner, Bob McIntosh, has today issued his report into the handling by Buccleuch Estates of negotiations with agricultural tenants over their farm leases.

The Tenant Farming Commissioner (TFC) was asked by Buccleuch Estates to look into concerns raised at a public meeting regarding a number of terminations of Limited Partnership arrangements and a Short Limited Duration tenancy.

The TFC reviewed five cases, looking at how the Estate had dealt with the cases and whether they were handled in accordance with good practice and relevant published codes and guides.

The TFC found that no actions by the Estate were in contravention of agricultural holdings legislation but that best practice was not always followed and that some of the discussions and negotiations could have been handled more sensitively by the Estate.

Bob McIntosh said:

“There are some valuable learning points from this exercise which have relevance for all landlords and tenants. The ending of non-secure tenancies has the potential to be a sensitive issue, particularly where past practices by the landlord may have led tenants, and general partners in an limited partnership, to feel that they have more security of tenure than is actually provided.

“When entering into such arrangements, and throughout the duration of the agreement, it is important that landlords and tenants are clear with each other about their expectations and aspirations for the future and that the outcome of these discussions is recorded so that unpleasant surprises for either party are avoided.

“It is also important, that where action by a land owner is likely to have major implications for land use, for communities and for the circumstances of individual tenants, the exercise is well planned with a good communications and engagement plan.

“Landowners must be able to pursue legitimate business interests but should heed the principles set out in such publications as the Scottish Government’s Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement, the Landowners’ Commitment published by Scottish Land and Estates and the Scottish Government’s ‘Guidance on Engaging Communities on Decisions Relating to land’.

“It will not always be possible to find outcomes that suit all stakeholders but consideration of the external impacts is likely to at least influence the process, and timing, by which change is brought about.

“The primary purpose of the Tenant Farming Commissioner is to promote good relations between landlords and tenants in the agricultural holdings sector.  This report highlights the importance of proactive engagement by landowners and land managers with tenants and communities when significant changes are planned.”

Read the full report here.