Arguments for no change in land laws are wrong

Commenting on negative reactions to progressive land reform measures from traditional private land ownership interests, David Cameron, Chair of Community Land Scotland, said,

“Comments flying around from some traditional private landed interests suggesting the land reform proposals from the Scottish Government will bring to an end populated rural communities, are completely over the top.

“They seem to forget that there is more than one way to own and manage land, not just their way. A number of communities now own substantial estates and are showing that new ownership does not end employment or investment, or result in depopulation, indeed the reverse is true.

“In a study of economic indicators of community owned estates published earlier this year, the community owners involved were out-performing the previous private owners. More jobs were being created, not fewer; more investment in the land, in housing and in creating workspace was being delivered, not less. Community owners employ gamekeepers and other land based staff, within a mix of other employments; this is not just the province of the traditional landed gentry.

“Community owners will remain focussed on creating a better future for their communities and we see the overall package of proposed land reform proposals as positively beneficial to that cause. These proposals are about promoting more community power with the state acting to ensure the public interest is met and is a principal consideration in the land ownership and management of the future.

“Comments made that large private estates have subsidised communities and the people who live in those communities for a long time, imply that the natives ought to be jolly grateful for this assumed beneficial largesse. Well, if land reform or subsidising large estates is too much of a burden for some people, maybe they should step aside and let others have a go. This is something that many communities would be keen to do but have not been allowed that opportunity for generations because of our ancient land ownership arrangements.

“Change and modernisation of a suite of our land laws and practises is long overdue and it is now time to get on and deliver that change for the wider public good and to open more opportunity for more people.”