You’d be forgiven for thinking that land reform in Scotland is like waiting for a bus. Nothing happens for ages and then three inquiries turn up at roughly the same time to examine different aspects of this most contentious, complex and political of issues.
Yesterday saw the first stop in the UK Parliament Scottish Affairs Committee’s (SAC) inquiry into land reform with publication of its Interim Report. Next month the Scottish Government-appointed Land Reform Review Group (LRRG) will reach its final destination following publication of its much-anticipated Final Report. Meanwhile, the Scottish Government’s Agricultural Holdings Legislation Review Group will issue an Interim Report in June and a Final Report in December.
Nobody yet knows where this flurry of reviews will take land reform as an issue of public policy in Scotland in the medium to long term. But in a measured and clear Interim Report, the Scottish Affairs Committee has begun to map out its views on how that reform process might best progress on two distinct fronts. Continue reading
The Scottish Government established the Land Reform Review Group (LRRG) in July 2012 with a remit to identify how land reform will:
- “Enable more people in rural and urban Scotland to have a stake in the ownership, governance, management and use of land, which will lead to a greater diversity of land ownership, and ownership types, in Scotland;
- Assist with the acquisition and management of land (and also land assets) by communities, to make stronger, more resilient, and independent communities which have an even greater stake in their development;
- Generate, support, promote, and deliver new relationships between land, people, economy and environment in Scotland”.
Publication on May 20th of the Group’s Interim Report should have marked an important staging post on the journey towards the “innovative and radical” proposals for land reform to which the Scottish Government is apparently committed, and to which the above remit is supposed to contribute.
The contents of the report suggest otherwise. Far from beating a path towards radical land reform, the Group appears to be stuck on the hard shoulder of a more narrowly focused community ownership review. Continue reading