Land Reform Policy Comes In From The Cold

Yesterday the Scottish Government published ‘A Consultation on the Future of Land Reform in Scotland’, a week after First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon announced a Programme for Government in which land reform features prominently. That’s a remarkable turnaround because only eighteen months ago it didn’t look as if land reform had much of a future in Scotland at all.

Back in May 2013, the Land Reform Review Group (LRRG), appointed by the Scottish Government to develop “innovative and radical” proposals for land reform produced an interim report of such limited scope and content that Andy Wightman (someone who, if he didn’t exist would surely have to be invented) declared land reform to be “effectively dead in the water as a matter of public policy”. My own blog on the report was scarcely any more optimistic.

Fast-forward a year and the re-booted LRRG’s final report ‘The Land of Scotland and the Common Good’ published in May 2014 bore little resemblance to its earlier incarnation. Instead, the report’s 62 recommendations, framed within the concepts of the public interest and the common good, challenged Scotland’s political elite to finally get serious about land reform after a decade in which it had been misunderstood and virtually ignored as an issue of public policy. Continue reading