Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

News Release

28th January 2018




In welcoming the publication of the Scottish Crown Estate Bill last week the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association have welcomed signs that plans are underway to continue to manage the rural estates nationally. Farming tenants had expressed their concerns that in dividing the Crown assets the rural estates might be split up and brought under the management of local authorities.  The Crown Estates comprise a large and diverse portfolio of rural and urban land, foreshore and mining rights, including several thousand hectare of tenanted farming land and the intention behind the Bill is to give local communities greater control over these assets in their area.

However, the Cabinet Secretary, Roseanna Cunningham has recognised that the devolution of management of these assets to local communities will not be appropriate in every circumstance and in some situations, it may be necessary for some assets to continue to be managed at a national level. The tenants on the four rural estates are firmly of the view that it would be more appropriate for the rural estates to be managed directly by the Scottish Government, or a body set up for the purpose rather than becoming devolved in the future to local authorities who have neither the skills nor the experience in managing agricultural estates. This view has acknowledged by the Cabinet Secretary.

Commenting on the situation STFA director Angus McCall said: “Having been worried about their future post-devolution the farm tenants have united to form a working group with representatives from all four estates to put forward their point of view and this group has met with ministers and civil servants on a number of occasions. They will be relieved that their concerns have been taken on board in the new Bill and ministers have signalled their intention to continue to manage the rural estates themselves.

“This is an important step as the rural estates have traditionally benefitted from being part of the wider Crown portfolio which has allowed to spread some of the surplus income from one sector to another. Although the rural estates have a high capital value and make a significant contribution to local communities and the environment, they produce a relatively low-income stream and this move will allow continuing investment in the farms providing the tenants with the security and confidence for the future development of their businesses.

“The Scottish Government has been carrying out some major reforms to the tenanted sector over the last few years which have now been enshrined in the Land Reform Act, being implemented over the next couple of years. As a major agricultural landlord, the Scottish Government will now have the opportunity to take the lead in making use of these new provisions to stimulate investment by both landlord and tenant, encourage the smooth transition of farms from one generation to the next, ensure fair rents for all and create opportunities where possible for the next generation.

“In remaining under the jurisdiction of the Scottish Government, tenants on all the estates would like to continue to be consulted in the management of the estates, particularly in any decisions involving any change of land use such as sale of land or conversion to forestry.”