£10m a year of public money will support the new Scottish Land Fund when it opens on 1 April, Land Reform Minister Aileen McLeod announced today.
The fund, set up to support community buyouts under the land reform legislation, will have three times the money available to the previous Land Fund, which awarded £9m over three years to 52 communities seeking to buy local land under the community right to buy. Delivered in partnership by the Big Lottery Fund and Highlands & Islands Enterprise, it offers grants of up to £1m to help communities take ownership of land and buildings, as well as practical support to develop viable projects.
The present Land Reform Bill, which reaches its final stage of the parliamentary process today, will greatly increase the scope for communities to buy land by enabling ministers to define "community" by reference to a postcode unit or units.
Support under the new Land Fund will continue until 2020. Dr McLeod urged communities to consider whether owning the land they live and work on could mean it could offer greater benefit for local people.
Community bodies set up to acquire land under the new bill will have to have purposes consistent with furthering the achievement of sustainable development.
Dr McLeod commented: “Each community has its own set of reasons for wanting to take on the ownership of land. The important thing is that communities are able to make the right choice for them in order to meet local needs and further sustainable development in their local area. This is why we have restructured the fund to ensure support is available to communities from the idea stages right through to project development. I want to spread the word about the benefits that can be achieved through community ownership of land and encourage both urban and rural communities to apply to the Scottish Land Fund."