Tenants urged to respond to Land Reform proposals

News Release

Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

 7th January 2015

 Tenants urged to respond to Land Reform proposals

The Scottish Tenant Farmers Association is urging tenant farmers to respond to the government consultation on Land Reform before the deadline on 10th February.  The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the consultation on the future of Land Reform as part of her programme for government last November.

 The consultation, which is being led by Environment Minister Aileen Mcleod, is seeking views on a radical programme of land reform creating a fairer and more equitable distribution of land in Scotland, delivering greater public benefits through a democratically accountable and a transparent system of land rights which will promote fairness and social justice, environmental sustainability and economic prosperity.

 STFA Chairman Christopher Nicholson said; “This consultation is picking up the threads of the land reform process that was started over a decade ago and it is important the government hears the views from as many people as possible.  This is especially important for tenant farmers who will shortly be debating on the report from the Agricultural Holdings Legislation Review Group.

 “Tenancy reform is an integral part of land reform and we welcome the government’s decision to bring forward legislative reforms to the tenanted sector as part of a land reform bill.  After all the highly regulated and complex tenancy system in Scotland is a direct consequence of the land tenure structure and its future should be considered as part of the wider land reform agenda.  Moreover there will inevitably be significant overlaps between the recommendations of the AHLRG report and the proposals for land reform.  For example, the proposal on the table to give ministers power to intervene “where the scale of landownership or the conduct of a landlord is acting as a barrier to sustainable development” is very similar to the proposal being floated in the AHLRG’s interim report to introduce procedures to enable a tenant to acquire the holding if the landlord was found to be in persistent breach of his contractual obligations.

 “On a practical note, the government’s packed legislative programme leaves a limited amount of time available in this parliamentary session for extra bills and there is a real fear that if legislative time is restricted, an agricultural holdings bill may get shelved until the next parliamentary session.  It may suit landlords to postpone impending changes but it will be devastating for a tenanted sector desperate for reform as soon as practicably possible.

 “STFA will be consulting with its members over the next few weeks, but I would urge all tenant farmers to make their voices heard, either through representative organisations or individually, so we can all play our part in influencing land reform in Scotland and help create a fairer and more equitable society for all.