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Transparency in ownership will be vital in shaping fair land use

David Adams

The Scottish Government has launched a public consultation on proposals for the new Land Reform Bill, which is open until 30 October. The Scottish Land Commission is 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 fourth blog in the series is from Land Commissioner Prof David Adams.

There is a huge opportunity for land across the Scottish Borders to work in the community’s benefit if managed responsibly and fairly.

There has never been a more important moment in time to create a fair land market across the south of Scotland.

As the Scottish Government’s Land Reform Bill consultation deadline looms, individuals in the Scottish Borders can make a meaningful contribution to the debate by taking part and sharing their views.

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.

Part of that evidence included commissioning Scottish Rural University College (SRUC) to carry out  research on ‘Interventions to manage land markets and limit the concentration of land ownership elsewhere in the world’.

The study highlighted the need for more transparency when it comes to Scotland’s land ownership and the precautions being taken by countries globally to prevent large-scale acquisitions of land – precautions that this country is not currently adopting.

Increasing the transparency of land ownership is a key factor in achieving a better balance between both private and public interests when it comes to land ownership and the land market.

The research also highlighted the long-standing concerns about the highly concentrated pattern of land ownership in rural areas of Scotland.

One of the proposals in the Scottish Government’s consultation includes the introduction of a public interest test for the transfer of large-scale landholdings and a requirement on owners to give prior notice to community bodies if they intend to sell.

This also has the potential to create greater transparency on who owns Scotland’s land alongside the proposed  requirement of those benefiting from public funding and seeking subsidies to have land listed in the Land Register.

The way we own, manage and use our land can rise to today’s challenges around net zero, nature restoration and a just transition. 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 this can be found on our website.

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

Eildon Hills in the Scottish Borders. iStock: Credit SW.


The blog first appeared as an op-ed in The Border Telegraph.