Committee Updates March 2015

The Future of Land Reform in Scotland

The Society responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation which lays out proposals for a potential Land Reform Bill and the setting up of a Land Reform Commission.  The Society has called for any land law reform to be ‘coherent, clear and workable,’ and pre-existing legislation must be taken into account.  The Society states in its response that the setting up of a Land Reform Commission appears to be a sensible way to progress land reform, however that there appeared to be a lack of clarity within the consultation as to how any such commission would be structured or what its remit would be.  The Society also suggested that stakeholder engagement was key and that any commission must remain independent of executive influence and represent the interest of all stakeholders, such as agricultural tenants, crofters and charities.

The Society also highlighted concerns around the proposals to increase transparency and accountability of land ownership in Scotland by limiting those who can own or take a long lease over land to legal entities registered in an EU Member State.  In the Society’s view restrictions such as these could be easily by-passed by non-EU companies setting up shell companies in the EU, not necessarily fulfilling the Scottish Government’s policy objectives of achieving greater transparency regarding the real land owner.  This could have an affect not only commercial land, but residential and agricultural land as well, thus having a potentially serious impact on business, and reducing investment.

The full response is on our website