The Scottish Government has announced a new Land Reform Review Group, which will oversee a wide ranging review of land reform in Scotland. The Government promises a ‘radical rethink’. The Group will pay particular attention to looking at ways in which the growth of successful community land buy-outs in rural Scotland can be replicated in urban communities. By the end of next year, it is anticipated that the group will have finalised a report recommending legislative changes.
The Group will be chaired by Dr Alison Elliott, Convener of SCVO, and will include the author and long standing critic of current land policy Professor James Hunter of the University of the Highlands and Islands and also Dr Sarah Skerratt of the Scottish Agricultural College. Future additions will include advisers with expertise in land ownership, economics, legal issues, community-led organisations, forestry and land access. Land reform campaigner Andy Wightman argues that the proof of the pudding will be when the group’s full membership and remit is made known.
The Scottish Government has also produced a research paper ‘Overview of Evidence on Land Reform in Scotland’ summarising the implementation of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003.
Meanwhile, the new £6 million Scottish Land Fund has opened for applications. The Fund, delivered by Big Lottery Fund Scotland and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, will work with existing representative community bodies such as voluntary organisations, social enterprises or community councils to develop initial ideas about community ownership and consider the feasibility of taking a project forward. Applications can be made here at any time until 30 November 2014. Eligible organisations must:
- Be community-led and community-controlled
- Have a social purpose.
- Have an open membership defined by a geographical area.
- Not be profit-distributing.