January 16, 2024
Why land reform really matters
There are few areas of government policy that provoke as much passion and debate as land reform but because it is such a complex subject many simply use land reform as a general proxy to signal their broader political affiliations. That said, because land reform has a direct impact on so many of the great issues that currently face the country, it’s always worth trying to get to grips with it. The best exposition of this that I’ve read for a while comes from Laurie Macfarlane. If you only read the first four pages, it’s really worth it.
Land reform has been one of the most significant achievements of the Scottish Parliament. But despite multiple waves of land reform legislation, the ownership, governance and use of land in Scotland remains stuck in the past. An archaic and dysfunctional land market continues to lie at the root of many of Scotland’s most pressing challenges – including the housing crisis, inequality, low productivity, and climate breakdown.
This report explores the key challenges that the forthcoming Land Reform Bill should seek to overcome, and outlines an ambitious agenda for land reform that aims to create a more democratic, sustainable and just Scotland. Our recommendations include bold but credible proposals to transform land market governance, diversify land ownership, develop land in the public interest, restore nature for a just transition, tax land more efficiently, and enhance market transparency.