Scottish Government review on land reform backs more community ownership

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The long awaited final report of the Scottish Government Land Reform Review Group is recommending ways of helping the country’s communities, rural and urban, achieve the First Ministers Target of having 1,000,000 acres of land in community ownership by 2020.

The report is of great interest to the people of Colonsay, already proprietors of land on the island through the Colonsay Community Development Company – with aspirations to purchase more.

The report is short on details as to how this target may be achieved – but the Scottish Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse has pledged to set up a working party to explore ways of achieving the 1M acre aim.

He said: ““I am pleased to read the recommendations on improving the availability of land, both rural and urban, and the need to increase access to rural housing, these are issues that will have a direct impact on many people’s lives. The Group have also highlighted the need to address transparency of land ownership in Scotland which I believe is crucial to taking forward this agenda.
“I also welcome that the benefits of community ownership have been highlighted within the report. We have always said that community ownership empowers communities, sparks regeneration and drives renewal which is why we have an ambitious target to get one million acres of land into community ownership by 2020.
“I am pleased to announce that I agree with the Review Group’s recommendation for a working group to develop the strategy for achieving the million acre target and I will shortly be forming a working group to achieve just that.
“Land Reform not just about land ownership but how that land is used and managed and the benefits it can bring to the people of Scotland. I look forward to considering how the recommendations in this report can further benefit the people in Scotland through the relationship with our land.”
David Cameron of Community Land Scotland also welcomed the report saying they wanted time to study it in detail before coming to any firm conclusions. However he did offer up this: ““In particular we welcome recognition of the need to provide for more compulsory interventions in land matters to secure more diversity in ownership and we welcome support for the principle of our idea of a Land Agency to assist secure more community ownership. The recommendations to control land holdings size, to have greater transparency of who owns what, and a stop to offshoring the ownership of Scottish land are all welcome, as are many other recommendations.

Douglas McAdam – the chief executive of Scottish Land and Estates, the organisation that speaks for man estate proprietors, said: “The Land Reform Review Report issued today has missed the opportunity to deliver constructive land reform and fails to address the real challenges facing rural Scotland.

Instead, the report appears based on a bias against private landownership and makes a series of unfounded recommendations that will create more publicly funded bodies, increase bureaucracy and place an even heavier burden on the public purse.”

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