The Scottish Ministers have recently introduced reforms to planning guidance in order to allow the recently reconstituted Crofting Commission a greater say in rural development and other planning matters affecting crofting communities.
The Crofting Commission was given a 'makeover' by the Crofting Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 (CRSA), changing its name from the Crofters Commission and making its membership democratically elected. The CRSA also introduced a new Crofting Register whereby crofters or those with related interests are required to register their interests to protect the crofting way of life.
The Commission promotes the interests of crofters and their communities. A croft is defined by the Crofters (Scotland) Act 1993 essentially as a property located within the 'crofting communities', which comprise the former counties of Argyll, Caithness, Inverness, Orkney, Ross and Cromarty, Sutherland and Zetland. "Crofters" are tenants of the crofts.
It is envisaged that the reforms will allow the Crofting Commission to become a statutory consultee when it comes to developments which have some sort of impact upon crofting communities. Representations from the Commission would effectively become material considerations in determinations of planning applications by the relevant planning authorities. This could conceivably apply to proposed wind farm or other energy-related developments, or infrastructure works.
Precise details are set out in the Town and Country Planning (Miscellaneous Amendments) (Scotland) Regulations 2011.