Tag: making more of scotland’s land

Discussion paper looks at increasing availability of agricultural land for new entrants

A simpler and more intelligible framework is now required in Scotland to open up the farming letting sector again and promote farming as a viable option for the next generation.

That’s the message in a new paper, ‘Encouraging agricultural lettings in Scotland for the 21st Century’, the fourth in a series of independent discussion papers from the Scottish Land Commission, aimed at stimulating debate about making more of Scotland’s land.

The framework needs to include both simpler tenancy law and a more commercial, business-minded and flexible approach to unlock more land for farm lettings.

In the paper, the author Jeremy Moody, maps the decline in the tenanted farming sector over the past century and the current, complex environment of different and sometimes overlapping, rules.

He assesses the past and current issues facing landlords and tenants including the perception among landlords that land letting is ‘high risk and low return’ and considers wider questions around the political climate and future changes in the context of Brexit.

The paper puts forward a number of proposals including a new income tax relief as an innovative way of addressing increasing land availability. This tax-based approach, seems likely to release more land; evidence from the Republic of Ireland suggests a significant increase in lettings there, following the adoption of a similar relief in 2015.

The paper’s author argues that letting is declining in Scotland despite a strong demand for access to land from new entrants and existing farmers needing to expand or improve the viability of their enterprises.

The Land Commission’s Tenant Farming Commissioner, Bob McIntosh, said:

“For a thriving tenant farming sector there needs to be a steady flow of new entrants to drive innovation and best practice, improve efficiencies and contribute towards the economic vitality of the sector.

“The Commission is looking at ways to stimulate the tenant farming sector and increase the availability of agricultural land. We commissioned this paper to encourage debate around the different approaches and incentives for letting of land.  We will discuss it at the next meeting of the Tenant Farming Advisory Forum in July and we’d welcome written responses by email, ahead of that meeting.

“The different approaches need to be considered alongside the work we’re doing on the current succession and retirement options for farmers and landowners.”

Speaking about his paper, Jeremy Moody said that promoting a positive attitude among both tenant farmers and landowners, “…depends on good quality relationships, with sympathy between the parties and positive approach by advisers. The approach should be to see that a good relationship for farming land should be mutually beneficial.”

Read the Land Lines discussion paper here.

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