Diversifying land ownership and tenure is one of six principles set out in the Scottish Government's finalised land rights and responsibilities statement, now published.
Published in line with ministers' duty under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016, which directs them to have regard to seven factors, the Scottish Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement will also help shape the work of the new Scottish Land Commission.
Its aims are, first, to inform the development of Government policy and action in relation any Government activities that relate to land, feeding into economic strategy, land use strategy and the National Planning Framework; and secondly, to encourage and support others with significant responsibilities over land, such as local authorities and large private landowners, to consider how their decision making powers could contribute to realising the vision in the statement.
In furtherance of this it sets out six principles:
- promotion of and respect for human rights in relation to land, contributing to the public interest and balancing public and private interests – and "support sustainable economic development, protect and enhance the environment, help achieve social justice and build a fairer society";
- "a more diverse pattern of landownership and tenure, with more opportunities for citizens to own, lease and have access to land";
- more local communities having the opportunity to own, lease or use buildings and land which can contribute to their wellbeing and future development;
- holders of land rights exercise these in ways that take account of their responsibilities to meet high standards of land ownership, management and use;
- improved transparency of information about ownership, use and management of land, publicly available;
- greater collaboration and community engagement in decisions about land.
Announcing the publication of the statement at the Scottish Land Commission conference in Dunfermline, Cabinet Secretary for Land Reform Roseanna Cunningham commented: “I’m proud that this statement about land rights and responsibilities is the first of its kind anywhere in the world. I am sure it will play an important role in shaping the thinking on land issues in Scotland in the years to come.
“It rightly promotes and supports a human rights approach to land and will contribute to securing rights, equality and wellbeing by balancing public and private interests.
“Setting out this vision signals our determination to continue to lead the way in ensuring Scotland’s urban and rural land plays a full role in promoting inclusive growth, a sustainable economy and social justice.”
The Scottish Land Commission may issue further guidance in due course about the application of the statement on the ground, in a day-to-day context.