NFU gets to grips with the Land Reform Act

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Anticipating the challenges the Scottish Government’s Land Reform Bill will throw up, NFU Scotland has set up a working group to help steer members through the changes.

Supporters of the Land Reform Act say it will give greater protection for tenant farmers, empower urban and rural communities interested in pursuing land ownership, and provide more transparency around who owns Scotland’s land. However, the level of changes will also bring challenges for many living in the countryside and NFU Scotland want to ensure they have access to the highest quality technical expertise for their members.

NFU Scotland president, Allan Bowie said: “The Land Reform Bill undoubtedly contains measures which will provide positive change for tenants and landlords in Scotland.

“Whilst NFU Scotland would have preferred land reform and agricultural holdings to be dealt with in two standalone bills, the legislation will bring about a number of key changes to agricultural holdings which NFU Scotland has championed.

“However, NFU Scotland has always said it will measure the long term success of the legislation on an increased amount of land being available for let in the future on a long-term secure basis.

“The legislation which MSPs have passed is extremely vast yet, in its final form, contains a number of areas where the detail is yet to be developed.

“It is regrettable that this Bill hasn’t been the vehicle in which to address further measures which could secure the confidence and vibrancy of the tenanted sector in Scotland, such as the two-stage waygo process. However, during parliamentary scrutiny the Cabinet Secretary undertook to examine further a number of issues which will be instrumental in driving future change in the sector.

“NFU Scotland will engage with Scottish Government to develop details which will have an undoubted impact on the effectiveness of this highly technical legislation, and we look forward to working with the new technical working group to develop robust policy, fit for instilling further confidence into the sector for the long-term future.”.

Claudia Beamish, South Scotland MSP was involved in the passing of this Bill and welcomes the changes it will bring: greater protection for tenant farmers, further empower urban and rural communities interested in pursuing land ownership, and more transparency around land ownership.

“While in some areas I believe the Act has not gone far enough, on the whole I am really pleased with the outcome,” said Ms Beamish.

“The Act will place the obligation on landowners to ensure that they comply with the land registers new requirements this will create far more transparency around who owns what and where. However, I am disappointed that this has not been extended to a requirement for owners of land in Scotland to be registered in the EU.