Policy Director of Community Land Scotland spoke today (2nd June) at the Scotsman Conference on Land Reform held at the National Gallery, Edinburgh.
The Scottish Government has put land reform at the heart of its legislative programme ahead of the 2016 Holyrood election, with a promise to ensure Scotland’s land is “an asset that benefits the many, not the few”.
The proposals are wide-ranging, with a clear statement of intent by ministers. If the scale of land ownership or nature of land use is deemed to be a barrier to sustainable economic development, it could potentially be taken into the hands of the state – probably by a new Scottish Land & Property Commission, which is likely to be set up to oversee new legislation.
Critics wonder how easy to will be to define what is in the best interests of a specific area, and it has been suggested that moves to take land from individuals could be a breach of human rights legislation and might end up in the courts.
There is also a pledge to drive up the proportion of community-owned land to deliver stronger, more resilient, and independent communities with a greater stake in their development. But given the varied success of community buy-outs in the past, is this the right way to go? Isn’t it all about land use and the availability of investment, and not just ownership?
What about the urban dimension? Is that being overlooked when affordable housing in urban areas is arguably a more pressing concern for the majority of Scots?