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Consultation is opportunity to share views and shape land reform in the public interest

Lorne MacLeod

The Scottish Government has launched a public consultation on proposals for the new Land Reform Bill, which is open until 30 October. We are encouraging people to respond to help shape the next step of Scotland’s land reform journey, and our Chair and Land Commissioners share their thoughts on why it's important to get involved in a new series of blogs. The fifth blog in the series is from Land Commissioner Lorne MacLeod.

Addressing the concentration of land ownership in rural Scotland could prove to be a key part of the nation’s land reform journey.

The pattern of land ownership in Scotland, and how this is highly concentrated in rural areas, is an area of longstanding concern – particularly in cases where this concentrated ownership creates a monopoly of power, limiting local communities’ abilities to bring their aspirations to fruition.

Now everyone on the West Coast can make a meaningful contribution to the debate by sharing their views and taking part in the consultation on the upcoming Land Reform Bill launched by the Scottish Government.

The Bill aims to be ambitious. It seeks to address the continuing concern about concentrated land ownership in rural areas of Scotland, while at the same time looking to ensure that the ways we own, manage, and use our land address today’s challenges of a just transition to net zero – balanced with the needs of our natural environment.

Over the last five years, the Scottish Land Commission has been working to provide a robust evidence base to support recommendations for making land work better in the public interest, and to highlight the opportunities that land reform can bring to Scotland and its people.

Through its research, the Scottish Land Commission has demonstrated that, when compared to our international peers, Scotland has an unusually high concentration of land ownership. Even more unusually, there is no limit on who can own land – or how much. To help address this, the proposals in the consultation include the introduction of a public interest test for the transfer of large-scale landholdings. Proposals also include a requirement on landowners to give prior notice to community bodies if they intend to sell land, and – to complement existing community right to buy legislation –  there is the aim of introducing a ‘pre-emption in favour of a community buy-out’ in cases where the proposed public interest test is found to apply. 

The way we own, manage and use our land can rise to today’s challenges around net zero, nature restoration and a just transition whilst meeting the needs of our communities. The Scottish Land Commission has pulled together all of the Commission's research and evidence, proposals and quick guides to provide the background information to the Scottish Government’s Land Reform Bill consultation, and these can be found on our website.

There has been incredible progress made on Scotland’s land reform journey but there is still work to be done. To get the balance right, it is important that Scottish Government is able to consider a wide range of views, and I would urge you to make your own contribution by visiting the ‘Land Reform in a Net Zero Nation’ online portal, which remains open until 30 October.


View from the top of Ben Donich / Beinn Dòmhnaich in the Arrochar Alps, near Loch Goil in Argyll and Bute.

The blog first appeared as an op-ed in The Oban Times.