Scottish Budget: Scottish Land Fund trebles to support community ownership

Aileen McLeod
Aileen McLeod

Measures announced in the Draft Budget for 2016-17 will help a fairer and wealthier society through Land Reform, environment minister Aileen McLeod has said.

Opening the stage one debate on the Land Reform (Scotland) Bill, Dr McLeod said the legislation is an ambition to fundamentally change the framework that determines how land is used and governed, to ensure Scotland’s land delivers the greatest benefits to our economy and communities.

The measures in the Bill are wide-ranging and ambitious, they will:

• Encourage and support responsible and diverse land ownership

• Increase transparency of land ownership in Scotland

• Help ensure communities have a say in how land in their area is used

• Address issues of fairness, equality and social justice connected to the ownership of, access to and use of land in Scotland

• Help to underpin a thriving tenant farming sector in Scotland

The confirmation in yesterday’s budget that the Scottish Land Fund will increase from £3 million to £10m in 2016, and the recently published report of the short life working group on achieving the Scottish Government’s target of one million acres in community ownership by 2020, will help ensure all our communities can realise the benefits that can come from owning land.

The minister welcomed the rural affairs, climate change and environment committee’s support in the stage one report on the Bill for this government’s aim to enable and empower communities across Scotland to have the confidence, opportunity and resources to own land for the benefit of the community.

Dr McLeod said: “Land reform is central to this government’s efforts to achieve a fairer and wealthier society. The Land Reform Bill is a culmination of years of work and a significant step forward in ensuring our land is owned and used in the public interest and to the benefit of the people of Scotland.

“Land reform has already delivered significant benefits to rural communities across Scotland and many of them are already benefitting from owning their land. This is why it is so important that funding is available to local communities, both urban and rural, to encourage and support responsible and diverse ownership and give all communities a say in how land in their area is used.

“However, this Bill is not the end point in Scotland’s land reform journey but is a vital next step in a much wider and on-going programme of reform across urban and rural Scotland. I look forward to continuing to working closely with the parliament as this Bill progresses to make sure we get the detail right and achieve our radical ambitions for this Bill.”

Cabinet secretary for rural affairs, food and environment, Richard Lochhead, added: “The Land Reform (Scotland) Bill will be potentially life-changing for individuals and communities across Scotland. This ambitious and radical Bill is a big step for real change in how Scotland’s land is owned, used, governed and managed to best deliver for the people of Scotland.

“The Bill also contains important measures that will make changes to agricultural holdings legislation to ensure a fairer balance of rights between those that own the land and those that work, live and depend on the land.

“These measures are based on the recommendations of the Agricultural Holdings Legislation Review Group. The review generated a high level of engagement and support among stakeholders, and it is important that we build on that momentum.

“It is greatly encouraging to see that in their stage one report on the Bill, that the majority of the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee support the principles behind this part of the Bill.”

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