The Scottish Tenant Farmers Association congratulates Lord David Johnstone on his appointment as chairman of Scottish Lands and Estates following Luke Borwick’s seven year tenure of the post.   In welcoming David Johnstone’s commitment to cross industry talks on the tenanted sector STFA also appeals for honesty and openness in recognising the many difficult issues which have been troubling the sector for many years.

Responding to David Johnstone’s inaugural statement STFA chairman Christopher Nicholson said:  “I wish David well in his term as chairman in what will undoubtedly be challenging times as Scotland comes to terms and adjust to what will be far-reaching reforms to our land tenure system.  STFA is always ready to discuss how progress can be made in reforming the tenanted sector but after 10 years of the Tenant Farming Forum the industry is no further forward.

“If we are to make real progress the SL&E’s representatives must be prepared to recognise the deep-seated ailments which are damaging landlord tenant relationships and holding the sector back.  Rent reviews are a prime example where landlords and their agents have steadfastly refused to consider changes to an out-moded rent review formula.   A rent system which favours one side at the expense of the other cannot be fair.

“The tenanted sector is currently under scrutiny and openness and transparency would greatly benefit the review process.  Lack of investment in tenanted holdings has been identified by the Group as one of several key areas holding back the tenanted sector.   The recent report commissioned by SL&E claiming significant investment by estates in tenanted holdings has convinced no one and, what is seen as an attempt to hide the true picture, has done lasting damage to the work carried out by SRUC.  Instead of trying to convince everyone that lack of landlord investment is not an issue through the interpretation and commissioning of expensive reports, it would be more constructive of SLE to address the problem which their own figures so clearly demonstrate.

 “STFA looks forward to working constructively with the new team at SL&E over the coming months and hopes that the new broom will signal a change in direction.  Clinging to the wreckage of an anachronistic land tenure system in Scotland is no longer an option and landowners will have to engage positively in the process of reform if it is not to be taken out of their hands.”