Tag: scottish land commission

Addressing Scotland’s pattern of land ownership can unlock economic and community opportunities

A new report published today (Wednesday 20 March 2019) finds that concentrated land ownership is having significant impacts on communities across rural Scotland.

The Scottish Land Commission report, titled Investigation into the issues associated with Large Scale and Concentrated Land Ownership in Scotland.  It is published alongside a set of Recommendations to Scottish Government Ministers, who asked the Commission to examine these issues.

Representing the most substantial investigation conducted into the impacts of this issue, the report is based on robust evidence about rural land ownership that shows how the concentration of social, economic and decision-making power significantly impacts communities across rural Scotland.

The report follows a call for evidence by the Commission last year, for anyone with experience of living or working in parts of Scotland where most of the land is owned by a small number of people, to share their experiences.

More than 407 people, from landowners and land managers to community representatives and individuals, submitted evidence. The main findings in today’s evidence report are that

  • Most of the disadvantages associated with Scotland’s current pattern of land ownership relate to a concentration of social, economic and decision-making power, not simply the size of landholdings
  • The advantages identified relate mainly to potential economies of scale
  • In some parts of Scotland, concentrated ownership hampers economic development and causes serious and long-term harm to the communities affected
  • The problems are not associated exclusively with any particular type of landowner – the Commission found a consistent pattern of evidence relating to land owned across the private, public, NGO and community sectors
  • There are issues to address beyond ownership, specifically a lack of effective participation in land use change decisions
  • The pattern of market and social power in concentrated land ownership, has parallels with monopoly power in other sectors of the economy
  • There is – currently – little or no method of redress for communities or individuals, where there are adverse economic or social impacts.

Speaking about the report, Hamish Trench, CEO of The Scottish Land Commission said,

“Concern about the impacts of concentrated land ownership in Scotland has long been central to the land reform debate. This evidence report allows us to move on from debating whether ownership is an issue, to understanding what the issues are and how they can be addressed.

“The evidence we have collected shows clearly that it is the concentration of power associated with land ownership, rather than necessarily the scale of landholding, that has a significant impact on the public interest, for example in relation to economic opportunities, housing and community development.

“Good management can of course reduce the risks associated with the concentration of power and decision making, but the evidence shows that adverse impacts are causing significant detriment to the communities affected. This points to the need for systemic change beyond simply a focus on good management.”

Recommendations

Informed directly by the evidence that has been gathered, the Commission is today making initial recommendations to address the adverse effects identified, and to stimulate a more productive, diverse and dynamic pattern of rural land ownership.

Recommended statutory changes include:

  • Public interest test for significant land transfer
  • Requirement for a management plan
  • Statutory Land Rights and Responsibilities Review

Other recommendations include:

  • Promoting more diverse private ownership to help achieve land reform objectives
  • Local engagement in land use change

The Commission recommends the introduction of a public interest test and approval mechanism at the point of significant land transfer, an obligation for larger land holdings to engage on and publish a management plan, and a review mechanism to address adverse impacts on communities where normal responsible management approaches are not effective.

Speaking about the recommendations, Hamish Trench said,

“The reforms we propose are a first step to address the significant issues identified in the evidence and move towards a more diverse and dynamic pattern of land ownership.

“Some of these reforms will require legislative change, and in the short term we have identified the need for stronger leadership within the land ownership sectors to address the risk and impacts identified and implement a programme of land rights and responsibilities good practice.

“These reforms seek to address the issues of concentrated land ownership using ways that are normal in other countries and economic sectors. It is common in international practice to have some form of approval measures at point of land transaction and we are also used to regulating the concentration of market power and monopoly positions in other sectors of the economy.”

The Commission is to engage widely with stakeholders and the public on the findings of the evidence, its implications and their recommendations, through a series of events and public meetings culminating in a land reform conference in October 2019.

 

 

New Codes of Practice to support community engagement by landowners

The Scottish Land Commission has announced today that it is developing a series of Codes of Practice for land owners, land managers and communities.

The Codes of Practice will set out what is expected for landowners, land managers and communities in engaging on decisions to do with land use. The Codes will support practical implementation of the ‘Guidance on Engaging Communities in Decisions Relating to Land’ published today, Wednesday 18 April 2018, by the Scottish Government.

The Commission is encouraging all land owners, and those with control over land, to adopt a proactive approach to engaging with communities in their plans for the land. The Codes will set out the expectations of what is reasonable and provide detail on how land owners and communities can have regard to the Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement.

The first Code will be published in the summer and will focus on how landowners, land managers and local communities engage.

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

“The Scottish Land Commission is working to increase the accountability of land ownership and promoting an open approach to decision making, all of which is a vital part of modernising our system of land ownership

“We are building on what already works well in the tenant farming sector by using good practice outlined in the Codes to provide clarity to all parties.

“Working closely with stakeholders we intend to develop Codes that are short, clear, practical and fair to all parties, setting out clear expectations of what normal and reasonable behaviour is. The Codes will also provide a mechanism to notify the Commission of an alleged non-compliance by an interested party.

“Along with the Codes we will also be providing guidance and practical advice to land owners, land managers and communities through newly appointed Community Engagement Advisers, to support improved engagement and accountability.”

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said:

“The Scottish Land Commission’s work to produce new Codes of Practice will greatly support the Scottish Government’s guidance for engagement between land owners and communities – resulting in greater collaboration on decisions about land.”

Scottish Land Commission to develop proposals for Compulsory Sale Orders

The Scottish Land Commission has begun work on developing proposals for a new Compulsory Sale Order power.

The Land Commission kicked off this work with a meeting of an expert advisory group on Monday 16 April 2018, to explore the opportunities and challenges that a potential Compulsory Sale Order power presents.

Compulsory Sale Orders (CSOs) would be a new legal mechanism available to local authorities to require abandoned buildings or small plots of land, that have been derelict for an undue period of time, to be sold by public auction to the highest bidder.

In 2016 there were 12,435 hectares of derelict and urban vacant land in Scotland. The Commission is working towards making more of Scotland’s land, and as part of this will be looking at the different approaches for addressing the problem of vacant and derelict land and bringing it back into productive use.

Chief Executive of the Scottish Land Commission, Hamish Trench, explains:

“The Commission was established to help create a Scotland where everybody benefits from the ownership, management, and use of Scotland’s land and buildings.

“If we want Scotland’s land to become more productive, efficient and equitable we must consider tools and mechanisms such as CSOs to address the problem of vacant and derelict land. It is envisaged that CSOs would be used to tackle abandoned buildings and small plots of vacant and derelict land in town centres and communities.

“We are working with the Scottish Government to develop proposals for a new CSO power that can then be used as the basis for consultation.

“The proposals will provide a clear description of the purpose of powers, how they might operate, the conditions under which they could be triggered and fully comply with the European Convention of Human Rights.”

Find out more about Compulsory Sale Orders on our blog.

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/.

More dates added to Land Commission’s series of events

The Scottish Land Commission has added more dates to its series of Meet & Greet events which are taking place across Scotland over the coming months.

Due to the success of the first Meet & Greet events held in April and May the Commission has announced the addition of three new dates to the series, with meetings to take place in Inverness, Islay and Oban.

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

“We are really encouraged by the response to the Meet & Greets so far. We have had varied audiences at the public meetings from those interested in community land ownership to tenant farming and with representation from both urban and rural communities.

“The discussions at the meetings have been really insightful and are helping the Commission to form our priorities for our three year strategic plan.

“We are keen to keep the momentum going with the additional meetings in Inverness, Islay and Oban and we hope to have even more over the coming months. This is a rolling programme of events and we would like to engage with as many people as possible.  I would urge everyone to attend a Meet & Greet in their area to find out more about who we are, what we do and importantly; how land reform can directly impact their community.”

The next Meet & Greet event is taking place at Leith Community Centre, Leith, Edinburgh on Thursday 22 June from 7pm and will be followed by:

  • NEW Tuesday 27 June, 7pm — Inverness

Scottish Land Commission, Longman House, 28 Longman Road, Inverness

  • NEW Thursday 13 July, 7pm – Islay

Ionad Chaluim Chille Ìle (the Columba Centre Islay), Bowmore

  • Thursday 27 July, 7pm — Biggar

Gillespie Centre, Biggar

  • NEW Thursday 17 August, 7pm – Oban

Corran Halls, Oban

  • Thursday 21 September, 7pm — Clydebank

Clydebank Town Hall, Clydebank

  • Thursday 26 October, 7pm — Dumfries

Georgetown Community Centre, Dumfries

  • Thursday 23 November, 7pm — Perthshire

Comrie Community Centre, Comrie

  • Thursday 22 February 2018, 7pm – Skye

The Fingal Centre, Portree

  • Thursday 22 March 2018, 7pm – Isle of Lewis

Bridge Community Centre, Stornoway

 

The events are free and tea and coffee will be provided. For more information visit www.landcommission.gov.scot, call 0300 244 4452 or email info@landcommission.gov.scot.

Scottish Land Commission appoint Hamish Trench as Chief Executive

The newly formed Scottish Land Commission has announced the appointment of Hamish Trench as their permanent Chief Executive.

Hamish will join the Scottish Land Commission from the Cairngorms National Park Authority. He will be responsible for the strategic leadership and operational management of the organisation and supporting Commissioners in fulfilling their functions.

Hamish will assume the role on 31 July 2017 taking over from the Commission’s interim Chief Executive, Hilary Pearce, who is currently seconded from Scottish Government.

Hamish said:

“I am delighted to have been appointed Chief Executive of the Scottish Land Commission. Working in such a new and exciting organisation and being part of driving land reform forward is a unique opportunity.  It is a privilege to lead the Commission at this important time and I look forward to working with Commissioners, staff and other partner organisations.”

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

“I am very pleased that Hamish is joining the Commission. He has extensive knowledge and experience in land issues, as well as enthusiasm and drive to lead the organisation forward in developing and implementing our Strategic Plan.

“I would like to thank Hilary for all of her work over the last few months in setting up the organisation and supporting Commissioners. The establishment phase of any new organisation is always tricky and Hilary has created a solid foundation for Hamish to build on.”

Land Reform Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said:

“I would like to congratulate Mr Trench on his appointment as the Chief Executive of the Scottish Land Commission. As a chartered surveyor with extensive experience in the public and private sectors, he will bring leadership and focus to land reform issues, shaping future developments and ensuring that land continues to play a major part in helping communities across Scotland realise their potential. I wish him great success with this crucial work.”

Background

Hamish Trench

Hamish Trench will join the Scottish Land Commission from the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) where he is currently Director of Conservation and Visitor Experience.

Hamish joined CNPA in 2004 and has held a number of different roles including Director of Strategic Land Use and Head of Heritage and Land Management. He was also seconded from the Authority to the Deer Commission for a year taking on the role of Head of Strategy.  A Chartered Surveyor, Hamish worked for a number of years as a Land Agent at Bidwells Property Consultants.  Hamish has had several pieces of research published which look at various land matters including community ownership, farming tenure and research collaboration.

Scottish Land Commission launches monthly community events

The newly formed Scottish Land Commission has announced a series of community ‘Meet and Greet’ events taking place across Scotland.

The Scottish Land Commission, which was officially established on the 1 April 2017, is holding a series of monthly meet and greet events to give people across the country the opportunity to find out more about the work of the organisation, meet with Commissioners and to discuss priorities for land reform.

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

“The Commissioners and I are really keen to get out and about to speak to people, in both urban and rural Scotland, to let them know more about the work of the Commission and to also find out what they think the priorities for land reform should be.

“By holding monthly events throughout the year from Stornoway to Dumfries, Inverurie to Clydebank, we hope to meet as many people as possible. I would encourage everyone to attend and make the most of the opportunity to meet with Commissioners to discuss the land reform agenda.  It is important that all voices are heard and we work together to make the most of our land.”

The first of the monthly Meet and Greet events will take place at the Simpson Institute, Upper Largo, Fife on Thursday 27 April from 7pm and will be followed by:

  • Thursday 25 May, 7pm — Aberdeenshire – Thainstone Mart, Inverurie
  • Thursday 22 June, 7pm — Edinburgh – Leith Community Centre, Leith
  • Thursday 27 July, 7pm — Gillespie  Centre, Biggar
  • Thursday 21 September, 7pm — Clydebank Town Hall, Clydebank
  • Thursday 26 October, 7pm — Dumfries – Georgetown Community Centre, Dumfries
  • Thursday 23 November, 7pm — Perthshire – Comrie Community Centre, Comrie
  • Thursday 22 February 2018, 7pm – Skye – The Fingal Centre, Portree
  • Thursday 22 March 2018, 7pm – Isle of Lewis – Bridge Community Centre, Stornoway

The events are free and tea and coffee will be provided. For more information visit www.landcommission.gov.scot, call 0300 244 4452 or email info@landcommission.gov.scot.