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May 21, 2008

New crofting and community development body

While community empowerment in lowland Scotland is cramped by COSLA – not so in the North. Ministers like Richard Lochhead and Adam Ingram use the ‘empowerment’ word freely regarding rural affairs. Radical new proposals for crofting communities continue this trend

David Ross, The Herald

A new report on crofting has put forward “radical ideas” for its future, including the abolition of the body which oversees the industry.

The previous Scottish Executive set up the Committee of Inquiry on Crofting to develop a vision for the future of the sector.

Its recommendations were published yesterday and are being considered by the Scottish Government. As part of that, the committee called for the Crofters Commission to be abolished.

It recommends the commission be replaced by a Federation of Crofting Boards, which would consist of seven to 10 elected local crofting boards.

In addition, the report said development of crofting should be the responsibility of a new crofting and community development body, which would ideally be part of Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

The committee argued an enhanced grant and loan scheme for crofters should be introduced, to allow them to build houses or improve their properties.

It also called for emphasis to be put on funding measures to assist new entrants into crofting.

Professor Mark Shucksmith, the inquiry chairman, said a key theme of the plans was empowering crofting communities to take ownership and responsibility for their future. He said: “Our proposals are far-reaching and will require significant commitment and investment for changes in legislation, governance, procedures and practice.”