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SCA response to Stage One Report on the Land Reform Bill

The Scottish Countryside Alliance has responded to the publication today (4 December) of the Stage One Report on the Land Reform Bill by the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee.

Scottish Countryside Alliance director Jamie Stewart said: “We believe that the Land Reform Bill, as proposed, places undue pressure on many rural businesses throughout Scotland. It would seem ironic that a bill sold as the saviour of sustainable rural communities could actually be detrimental to many currently living and working on the land. 

“We welcome the inclusive nature of the review carried out by the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee and are pleased to read they share our thoughts on the impact of ending the rates exemption for sporting estates and deer forests. The need for much more information on the impact of this proposed change is evident and we will offer our support to the RACCE committee and others as they review this further.

“However we are greatly concerned that the voices of the left wing activists displayed at the SNP Autumn Conference add unwarranted pressure to the Scottish Government to be more radical in its measures, whatever that means! We raised our concerns about the lack of clarity and detail in the provisions that would give Scottish Government Ministers the right to enforce the sale of land and do not agree with the view that the thresholds for enforced sale could be too high.

“As an organisation actively supporting rural communities, we support community ownership where there is a willing seller and able buyer but strongly believe that enforced sale of land, as detailed in the Bill, runs a serious risk of breaching an individual’s property rights and is detrimental to the continuation of businesses operating successfully within some of Scotland’s most fragile economic regions.

“We fully agree that Scotland’s land should be used for the benefit of the many and believe that both private and community ownership have an important role in delivering that benefit; but raise concerns that much of the good work currently carried out by landowners and managers is too readily overlooked in favour of the Highland clearance rhetoric promulgated by those who seek disharmony and dissent.”

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