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June 16, 2020

Built in resilience 

Whether it’s by accident or design is a matter of some debate, but the fact that Scotland has such a strong and diverse community sector has certainly enabled the country’s response to this crisis. Some might argue that if we had a genuinely ‘local’ level of local government the response would have been designed and delivered quite differently. But we are where we are with that one and until it is resolved, community groups of shapes and sizes continue to fill the gap. Local resilience seems to be a crucial factor. Great piece highlighting the contribution of community landowners.

Community Land Scotland and Community Woodlands Association

To read the full report – Built in resilience


What the coronavirus emergency has clearly underlined, is that the community

ownership model ensures a local resilience. Not only should that not be lost, it should

be extended to new areas as an integral element in government thinking on how

best to rebuild Scotland. The strength of communities who own their own assets –

be they large estates like Galson, or inner-city centres like Kinning Park – have been

tested and produced amazing results. Their innovative and risk appropriate responses

to this crisis have been founded on their local strengths in engagement, trust and

organisation. How can we build on this and ensure the progress made won’t be lost?

Community Land Scotland has already made a compelling case to Ministers and

MSPs for a bold ‘Rural New Deal’ embracing further land reform, as a driver of

economic recovery and a means of building a greener future. Community landowners

have already led the way in renewable energy generation and conservation.

The Scottish Land Fund should continue to operate but with a significantly increased

budget, up to £20m a year. This would provide the investment necessary to ensure

that there is new momentum to community acquisitions across Scotland, continuing

Scotland’s strong tradition of investing in its local communities to help them address

the needs and opportunities of their own local areas.

A Land Value Tax and other fiscal measures should be considered, to reduce the

inflated land values which only currently help ensure that so much land is owned by a

private few.

A supplementary charge to the Land and Buildings Transactions Tax for private sales

of large rural estates over a certain size, could help finance the Scottish Land Fund.

The Fund in turn would support more community buyouts and provide ongoing

support for those already purchased.

Community Land Scotland’s Policy Director Calum MacLeod said:

“Now is the time for bold thinking and the political will to make that happen. We need

more community land and asset ownership because it’s a proven model of enhancing

the resilience of rural and urban communities.  That’s why we’re calling for retention

and expansion of the £10m Scottish Land Fund up to £20m annually to provide the

necessary investment to ensure that scaling-up of community land ownership across


He said that while the economic storm created by the coronavirus had to be addressed

urgently, so too did the climate emergency which had not gone away.

“Community landowners have already led the way in renewable energy generation and

conservation. The more community landowners there are, the greater their contribution

to a Green economic recovery would be. This would be achieved by ensuring the

sustainable management of land for carbon capture and renewables development –

leading to payments for public goods to address the climate emergency – which are

reinvested in our communities. Strengthening further those communities and giving

them the tools to help address both local problems and global problems.

We need a Rural New Deal, diversifying how land and other assets such as forests and

marine resources are owned and used so as to deliver the climate change mitigation

and adaptions, affordable housing, employment creation and growth that are essential

to the sustainability of our rural places and to delivering wider public benefits.”

Ministers must listen. Nobody should think that returning to the way things were

before the pandemic, would be a goal worthy of all the effort, loss and sacrifice.