Scotland is now talking about land reform.
A new Consultation on the Future of Land Reform in Scotland, which follows on from the programme for government launched last week, gives interested parties until 10 February 2015 to respond on its various proposals. Those proposals have been developed from the 62 recommendations of the Land Reform Review Group. In a well-presented Annex to the Consultation, those Recommendations are put in a table alongside the Scottish Government’s plans for them. Whilst a few items have been put on hold until another review group, into agricultural holdings legislation, Annex 2 gives a pretty good idea of the current direction of travel.
All of this provides a bit of a platform for those interested in land reform to pontificate from. This I duly did, on BBC Radio Scotland’s “Newsdrive” on 2 December (available via iPlayer until 30 December – my involvement begins just after the 1 hr 35 minute mark). As with previous radio appearances, I felt there was a heck of a lot more I could (and should) have said, not least about the possible intervention power where the scale or pattern of landownership is seen as a barrier to sustainable development, or the proposal that non-EU business entities should not be able to become registered owners of land. On the potential for urban land reform, I should have mentioned a bit about the potential for Urban Partnership Zones or Compulsory Sale Orders, but I bogged myself down in talking about existing powers and the Community Empowerment Bill that is currently before the Scottish Parliament.
On that note, my talking about land reform continued on 3 December, when the Rural Affairs, Climate Change & Environment Committee invited me along to speak about the proposed amendments to the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. These amendments will tweak the community right of pre-emption in Part 2 of that Act and introduce a stronger right of acquisition for communities in relation to certain (for example) blight sites, where an owner has neglected an area to the detriment of the local area. My involvement begins just after the 19 minute mark of this Parliament TV video.