Draft land rights statement goes out to comment

Draft land rights statement goes out to comment
The Journal of the Law Society of Scotland

Scottish ministers have set out the proposed basis for their policies under the new land reform legislation, in a draft issued for public consultation.

The land rights and responsibilities statement, required to be published under part 1 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016, is a set of principles intended to both guide public policy and inform the practices of all those who own, manage and use land.

It will underpin a range of Scottish Government strategies related to land rights and responsibilities. It is also likely to have a significant impact on the work of the new Scottish Land Commission which becomes operational in April.

According to the foreword, the statement "aims at a collaborative process through which those whose lives are affected by decisions relating to land work together to agree on priorities and address challenges. It aims to enable landowners, land managers and land users to meet the responsibilities which are coupled to their enjoyment of land rights".

The statement itself sets out, and then expands on, six principles, preceded by a "Vision for a strong relationship between the people of Scotland and the land of Scotland". Under this, the ownership, management and use of land and buildings in Scotland "should contribute to the collective benefit of the people of Scotland", and "A fair, inclusive and productive system of land rights and responsibilities should deliver greater public benefits and promote economic, social and cultural rights."

The principles which follow are that:

The overall framework of land rights, responsibilities and associated public policies governing the ownership, management and use of land, should contribute to building a fairer society in Scotland and promote environmental sustainability, economic prosperity and social justice.

There should be an increasingly diverse and widely dispersed pattern of landownership and tenure, which properly reflects national and local aspirations and needs.

More local communities should be given the opportunity to own buildings and land which contribute to their community’s wellbeing and future development.

The holders of land rights should recognise their responsibilities to meet high standards of land ownership, management and use, acting as the stewards of Scotland‘s land resource for future generations.

Information on land should be publicly available, clear and detailed.

There should be wide community engagement in decisions about land.

Cabinet Secretary for Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham commented: “The land rights and responsibilities statement is a world-leading undertaking, which will be central to the Government’s commitment to long term land reform.

“Land reform is concerned with both urban and rural communities and impacts on every single person in Scotland. This consultation will give everyone the opportunity to shape the future of our land to create a fairer and more prosperous nation."

She added that the statement "will be the basis for a strong and consistent vision running through Government policy and the work of the new Scottish Land Commission".

Click here to access the full document. The deadline for responses is 10 March 2017.

Source: The Journal of the Law Society of Scotland