September 9, 2015
The complex process that legislation is subjected to through the Parliamentary procedures of scrutiny and evidence taking, not to mention the particularly close attention of Government lawyers, can result in the best intentions at the outset bearing little resemblance to what finally emerges. There are concerns from some quarters that something similar may be happening to the Land Reform Bill. Campaign group, Our Land, is urging MSPs to hold firm in the face of pressure to dilute some of the key elements. The #BeBrave campaign has been launched with a petition to sign.
To sign the petition to encourage our MSPs to #BeBrave sign here
Our Land calls for five actions to ensure the Land Reform Bill is strong and effective as it can be.
We urge MSPs to #BeBrave in the face of lobbying by landowning interests who want to weaken the already modest measures being proposed.
1. Reinstate the requirement for all landowning entities (like companies) to be registered in a member state of the EU.
2. Hold firm to existing proposals that: reintroduce non-domestic rates to sporting estates and deer forests; provide a mechanism for communities to appeal to Scottish ministers about negligent landowners; require landowners to have meaningful consultation with local communities; demand information and transparency on landholdings; set up a Land Commission; reform inheritance law to equalise land rights among children and improve conditions for tenant farmers.
3. End the 100 per cent exemption on non-domestic rates on derelict land
4. Acknowledge that this Land Reform Bill won’t solve the problem of unaffordable and unavailable land in Scotland and prepare to adopt further measures in the next parliament to tackle land taxation, lack of information about land ownership, derelict and vacant land, absentee landlordism and the exorbitant cost of land for housing.
5. Welcome the #OurLand festival which we intend to run on the Glorious Twelfth every year until land in Scotland is affordable and available and owned by a wide diversity of people, communities, companies and trusts.
Why is this important?
Scotland has the most concentrated land ownership in the developed world. Just 432 people own half of the private land. Land prices are far too high – this is why rents are extortionate, and why young people are leaving when they can’t even get a scrap of land for housing.
For Scotland to flourish and every community to have a say over their resources and their future, we need a strong land reform bill that really tackles all these issues. We’re up against a wealthy landowning lobby who want to water down the Scottish government’s proposals – so we must make our voice heard! Tell your MSPs to back the five demands of the #OurLand campaign and make sure we get a bill that can change Scotland for the better.
The Our Land Campaign was set up by Common Weal, Women for Independence, the Scottish Land Action Movement and campaigners Andy Wightman and Lesley Riddoch to highlight the way unavailable and unaffordable land blights development in the countryside and cities.