The Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham has provided a useful update on implementation of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016.
The Cabinet Secretary has written to the Convener of the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee, setting out the progress that has been made over the last year and proposed timeframes for the future. The letter is available here.
The letter does not cover the agricultural holdings provisions as these are not within Roseanna Cunningham’s remit. Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity, is responsible for agricultural holdings reform.
Scottish Land Commission
The letter points to the newly constituted Scottish Land Commission as one of the main indicators of progress. The Scottish Land Commission became operational on 1 April 2017. The website states that the Commission hopes to meet as many interested organisations and individuals as possible during its first year. To that end, the Commission is holding “Meet and Greet” events across the country and details of those events are available here.
Community Right to Buy
The letter acknowledges that implementation of the new community rights to buy has been “delayed by competing priorities”. Specific timeframes are not given for introduction of the new rights to buy but the right to buy “abandoned, neglected and detrimental land” (which was contained in the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015) will be introduced first with stakeholder engagement taking place over the summer (the intention is that regulations will be laid before Parliament in autumn 2017). The right to buy land to further sustainable development will be introduced once the right to buy “abandoned, neglected and detrimental” land has had time to “settle in”.
The letter also sets out the next step for implementation of provisions relating to each of the following topics:
- Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement;
- Guidance on Engaging Communities in Decisions Relating to Land; and
- Controlling Interests in Land.
Anyone hoping to see confirmed timescales for implementation of the provisions is likely to be disappointed but the letter gives a summary of the Scottish Government’s current work streams and an indication of relevant timeframes.