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Engagement will be key in delivering fair land use

Bob McIntosh

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 sixth and final blog in the series is from the Tenant Farming Commissioner, Bob McIntosh. 

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.

Now members of the Perthshire public can make a meaningful contribution to the debate by taking part in the Scottish Government’s consultation on the upcoming Land Reform Bill.

The consultation includes an interesting proposal for a new form of tenancy, called a land use tenancy. Although it has little detail yet, I believe this proposal has the potential to provide the opportunity to create a simpler and more flexible basis on which to let land for a variety of land uses. I would see such a tenancy sitting alongside current arrangements so that there is a choice between using the existing or new form of tenancy to let land. The proposal still needs a lot of discussion and agreement around what issues are dealt with in the legislation and what is left to negotiation between landlord and tenant. But if it does create a simpler and more flexible basis for letting land it may help to reverse the decline in the letting of land.

Another of the recommendations considered for inclusion in the new Land Reform Bill is to strengthen the Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement and make it a legal duty for large scale landowners to comply with associated protocols, similar to the model of Codes of Practice that I use for tenant farmers and landlords as the Tenant Farming Commissioner.

In a progressive and fair Scotland, it is important that local communities have a say in decisions about land that will impact them. The Scottish Land Commission’s Land Rights and Responsibilities Protocols set out practical advice to landowners, land managers and communities on topics such as community engagement, transparency of ownership and managing investment in natural capital. Engagement in line with the protocols helps ensure that those with an interest have a voice and their opinions are taken into account, enabling them to help shape decisions about land while building trust. These voluntary protocols have so far proved to be popular and beneficial to landowners, land managers and 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

To get the balance right it is important that Scottish Government has a wide range of views to consider so I would urge people in Perthshire and beyond to make their own contribution by visiting the ‘Land Reform in a Net Zero Nation’ online portal, which remains open until 30 October.


Silage cut and ready for baling, Perthshire. Photographer: Matt Cartney. Crown Copyright - courtesy Rural Matters.

The blog first appeared as an op-ed in The Perthshire Advertiser.