It has been described as “the tipping point" in the centuries-old debate over who owns Scotland
A groundbreaking report sets out a roadmap for the radical transformation of land ownership in Scotland.
Published by the New Economics Foundation and the Common Weal think tank, it has been described as “the tipping point in the debate”.
Our Land, commissioned by Revive, the coalition for grouse moor reform, provides an analysis of why concentrated land ownership is harming Scotland, sets out a comprehensive plan for reform, demonstrates that it is legal and possible within the powers Scotland already has and sets out a vision for what a new Scottish landscape could look like.
Land reform in Scotland has been debated for centuries.
Until now there has not been a comprehensive plan of how to challenge, change and democratise the situation, wiping away vestiges of feudalism and practices which cause environmental damage and create rural inequality.
Land reform expert Andy Wightman MSP, an advisor on the report, said: “This report provides a common sense approach to tackling land reform in Scotland. The land question is centuries old, yet Governments have repeatedly shied away from it.
"This report is a tipping point in the debate and provides solutions which are in the gift of the Scottish Parliament to implement. I wholeheartedly endorse this comprehensive, well-researched and sensible approach to deal with the inequality and unfairness of land ownership in Scotland."
The report sets out a package of measures, all within the powers of the Scottish Parliament and legal under international law, which can be used to transform the pattern of land ownership and management.
Recommendations include the creation of a complete and comprehensive land registry to provide full transparency on who owns Scotland's land, the introduction of some form of land taxation to incentivise better productive use of land, the reform of agricultural and business subsidies to emphasise the quality of land use and the introduction a cap on the maximum amount of land one 'beneficial owner' can own.
It also advocates the use of compulsory sales orders where necessary to require some landowners to sell land to the public and compulsory purchase orders to buy land for public good purposes.
Leading land reform activist, journalist and broadcaster Lesley Riddoch who contributed the foreword for the report, added: “All the recommendations in this landmark report are legal within the existing powers of the Scottish Parliament, in line with international law, practised elsewhere and ready to be enacted now in Scotland. All that’s missing is the political will to mobilise a cross-party alliance, tackle age-old fears of confronting Scotland’s big landowners and finally achieve the transformation dreamed about by generations of our forebears who finally settled for less or took their energy, culture, language and dreams elsewhere.
“Merely tweaking the developed world’s worst landownership system won’t save precious habitats, repopulate the glens or give Scots affordable leisure-time in their own country. This report is a policy roadmap showing how the land question can be tackled and what a normal Scotland might actually look like. I hope it puts land reform right back on the agenda for the Scottish Parliament and its parties.”
Duncan McCann, from the New Economics Foundation, added: “Significant land reform is vitally important if we want Scotland to be a more equal society as well as address the massive challenges of climate change and rural regeneration. The recommendations contained in this report, all of which can be implemented by the Scottish Government under the existing devolution arrangements, would go a long way towards creating the foundation we need to create the just and prosperous Scotland we all want to see.”