Prompt action is needed by the Scottish Government to reform the law of crofting.

In a report published today, we have set out recommendations detailing proposed solutions to issues in four areas of crofting law: aspects of succession, owner occupier status, statutory conditions of tenure, and the definition of ‘crofting community’. It aims to build upon the extensive work already undertaken by crofters and other stakeholders in relation to reforming crofting law.

The report follows a public consultation we ran in the first half of this year to gather views from crofting stakeholders on the four areas that had been identified for consideration. While the project was not a full review of crofting law, we believe it is clear from these discussions that widespread reform of the law of crofting is required, both to simplify and restate the existing law, and to make changes.

Crofting remains of significant importance to the rural economy and living in Scotland, with almost 21,000 crofts registered with the Crofting Commission in the 2017 census.

Jim Drysdale, Convener of our Rural Affairs Sub-committee, said: “We are grateful to the crofters and stakeholder organisations who responded to our call for views and engaged with us throughout the project on the relevant issues and possible solutions. It is clear from these discussions that legislative change is desired and considered by many to be long overdue.

“Crofting law has developed over time in a piecemeal fashion by the passing of a number of Acts and is a complex and difficult area of the law. We believe that the necessary reforms should be completed as a single piece of work, in order to avoid further piecemeal development in the law and reduce the possibility of unintended consequences arising by making legislative change in respect of some matters but not others.

“We hope the Scottish Government fully considers the recommendations in our report and we urge them to take swift action to reform crofting law. We look forward to working with them and crofting stakeholders further on this.”

The full paper on crofting law reform can be read here, while an executive summary to the paper is also available.

The crofting law reform project is one of our proactive public policy projects for 2020. These aim to address areas of law that have failed to meet the needs of our modern society and keep up with technological developments.