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Scotland’s Land Reform Bill Passes Stage 3

The Land Reform Bill which passed its Stage 3 debate in Holyrood yesterday was feistier than the Scottish government originally proposed, but less than the Land Reform Review Group (LRRG) recommended back in 2014.

Sahpe of things to Come

More than 100 amendments were discussed during a lengthy debate at Holyrood, before MSPs voted 102 to 14 to approve it. Labour backed the SNP over the proposals, while the Conservatives voted against them.


Speaking after the stage three debate, Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Dr Aileen McLeod said:

“The passing of the Land Reform Bill is a landmark moment in our land reform journey. It is a result of many years of work to ensure our land is owned and used in the public interest and for the benefit of the people of Scotland.

“This radical legislation will make important changes to specific rights and responsibilities over land, including provisions to increase the transparency of land ownership, which have never before been seen in this country. It will allow us to provide guidance to landowners and tenants and allow communities to be involved when decisions are taken about land. The Bill will also remove the existing exemption of business rates for shooting estates and deer forests.

“This is a significant next step, but is not the end of our land reform journey - I want to do even more to help future generations benefit from our land. Going forward we will establish the Scottish Land Commission, publish a Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement and continue our work towards our one million acre target to community ownership by 2020.”


SCA Director Scotland Jamie Stewart Said: We are very disappointed in the passing of the bill and more so that many well thought through amendments were rejected out of hand.  It simply defies logic to reinstate sporting rates on a business where the direct and indirect income generates sustainable employment in some of Scotland’s most fragile communities. This effect is only compounded when competing businesses, many already supported by government subsidies continue to trade exempt from baseness rates.


In seems ironic that the passing of this bill will most likely see a net loss of employment for many within the game and game management sector not to mention the effects on downstream businesses such as hospitality, accommodation and local services.  We will continue to work with Scottish Government in a bid to limit the inevitable damage to the fabric of rural community’s we fear


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