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August 25, 2020

Different landscape

Given our histories, it’s perhaps not entirely surprising that Scotland and England have pursued different paths on land reform but the differences are stark nonetheless. George Monbiot paints a very grim picture of landed privilege in England with little obvious appetite for reforms any time soon. But change can happen surprisingly quickly. Who would have thought, 20 years ago, that Scotland’s landowners would be presented with these latest protocols from Scottish Land Commission which clearly set out new expectations as to how ownership of land should be diversified and transferred into community ownership? 


Scottish Land Commission

Two new protocols published by the Scottish Land Commission aim to help give communities a greater stake in how land is owned and used in Scotland.

The protocols set out expectations of landowners to assess use and ownership of their landholdings as part of their normal business and to work together with communities to explore negotiated transfer, lease and management of land and buildings to meet the community’s needs.

The protocols are the latest in a series produced by the Scottish Land Commission to encourage practical implementation of the Scottish Government’s Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement (LRRS).

The first of the two new protocols sets out how landowners can help achieve a more diverse pattern of land ownership and tenure. The protocol suggests landowners have an important part to play in promoting greater economic development and social wellbeing by helping to change the pattern of ownership and tenure of land.

The second protocol encourages landowners to take steps to facilitate greater community ownership, lease and use of land, supporting local people to meet community needs and to use land and buildings to provide housing, business opportunities, community facilities and greenspace to enhance their wellbeing.

Land commissioner Sally Reynolds said: “More diversity of land ownership is likely to unlock more innovation, economic activity and opportunities for communities, businesses and individuals. Owners and managers of land in Scotland have an important role to play in releasing these opportunities in the course of normal business, not only through statutory measures.

“These protocols help set out clear expectations for regularly reviewing opportunities to sell, lease or make available land for other productive purposes, and engaging proactively where community ownership is an option.

“While community ownership may not always be appropriate in every case, owning, or leasing land and buildings can give communities a much stronger voice in decisions made about priorities, at a local level.”