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People, Power & Prosperity – our new Strategic Plan

Sally Reynolds

This we week are publishing our new Strategic Plan for the Scottish Land Commission and the associated Programme of Work.

This strategic plan comes at an important time in Scotland’s land reform journey – we have come so far but there is much further to go. I am excited as we look forward to the next three years and really feel the three themes of people, power and prosperity highlights the breadth of importance land reform has for us as a country but also allows us as the Commission to remain focused on three key elements.

 The Strategic Plan sets our focus for the coming three years on ‘people, power and prosperity’.

The plan sets an agenda for the Commission’s work that will help Scotland:

  • Strengthen the ways people participate in and influence decisions about land;
  • Diversify the power and control in land ownership and governance;
  • Use the value and benefits of land to support national economic prosperity.

Scotland’s land and programme of land reform can deliver on the bold ambitions set out by the Scottish Government for local democracy, net zero and economic transformation. Our role at the Commission is to help shape the route map for changes in policy and legislation, but also to provide leadership and support for those delivering change on the ground.

The Commission has published a wide range of research and recommendations over its six years to date to shape Scotland’s land reform programme. These include reform proposals to address concentrated land ownership, expand and normalise community land ownership, improve taxation of land value, transform vacant and derelict land, establish more accountable regional land use planning, unlock more housing land and make a just transition in the way land delivers on net zero. 

There continue to be so many areas the Commission could look at, in which reforms to the ways Scotland’s land is owned and used can unlock change. But as a small organisation we need to be focused in maximising the value of the resource we have. Our strategic plan shows how we will prioritise our work in the coming three years. We know we are working in a decade of change in which Scotland has ambitious commitments to climate and nature targets and to economic transformation. We will focus particularly on how reforms in land ownership and use will deliver these.

We will have a major focus on land governance, looking at how ownership rights and decision making can be structured in different ways to empower more people. This work will explore different governance approaches in land ownership, particularly ones that bring more local accountability, unlock innovation and diversify control. As well as looking at policy reforms we will support innovation and change on the ground at a land holding and community scale.

Over the coming three years we will also bring scrutiny to the way land is valued, how this might need to change and how Scotland can be more strategic about increasing the public value in its land and using this to improve long-term national economic prosperity.

Alongside our research and policy advice we will continue to strengthen our work supporting the practical implementation of Scotland’s Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement. This has been a growing part of our work, engaging directly with land owners, managers and communities, and is helping deliver changes in culture and practice. There are strong parallels between this work supporting responsible land ownership and our work supporting the Tenant Farming Commissioner. In both we will continue to provide clear advice about expectations, supportive guidance and routes to address concerns where they arise.

With the expected land reform bill and other legislative proposals, the Commission will use our experience and work to date to advise on proposed statutory measures, and this will no doubt be a significant focus in the next three years. Alongside this, we know it’s important for the Commission to continue to look ahead, to bring leadership, fresh thinking and critical analysis that will help Scotland chart an ambitious course in ongoing reforms to land tenure, ownership and use.

As always, we are keen to hear your feedback on our plans and work. Please do join us at one of our online public meetings over the coming months to hear more about our strategic plan and share your land reform experiences.