Land reform needs to accelerate “as a matter of social justice” says Community Land Scotland

There is a pressing need to accelerate the pace of Scotland’s land reform journey to unlock the potential of communities to take control of their own destinies and help stem the depopulation crisis faced by many rural areas, delegates will hear at Community Land Scotland’s Annual Conference this weekend.

The Conference, titled “Making Community Landownership Mainstream: Next Steps on Scotland’s Land Reform Journey” is being held at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in Skye.  It comes in the wake of a major report by the Scottish Land Commission into the damaging effects of Scotland’s uniquely concentrated pattern of land ownership on the wellbeing of communities facing inequalities of power.

Dr Calum MacLeod, Community Land Scotland’s Policy Director, will use his conference speech on Friday to call for the pace of land reform to accelerate as a matter of social justice.

Dr MacLeod is expected to say:  “Community ownership of land and other assets is a way of doing things that works.  Creating jobs, building affordable homes and delivering local services that improve rural and urban communities’ everyday lives in ways that are real and meaningful to them.  Yet, Scotland’s overall pattern of extraordinarily concentrated private land ownership – with all the power inequalities that contains – survives remarkably unscathed. That needs to change”.

“Now is not the time to slacken the pace of Scotland’s land reform journey.  Twenty years on from the re-establishment of the Scottish Parliament there remains an urgent need to ensure that the benefits of community land ownership are routinely experienced throughout Scotland as a matter of social justice.”

Kate Forbes, constituency MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch will give the keynote address at the Community Land Scotland Conference.

The Highland MSP is expected to say: “Community ownership itself is never the final destination. It is about what you do with land reform or community ownership that really matters. To achieve that, we’ve got to support communities with the expertise, guidance and advice they need.”

“That is why organisations like Community Land Scotland are so critical, because they equip and support communities at different stages of their journey to ownership.

“For the Highlands to thrive, we need to support interventions that will really act as a catalyst for a thriving population. That has got to include land reform, but that has got to go in tandem with other forms of support. If land reform is the bedrock, then housing, infrastructure and connectivity are the building blocks of a sustainable community.”

Scottish Land Commissioner, Lorne Macleod, commented:

“Community ownership has developed significantly over the last 20 years and it is now seen as integral to regeneration and sustainable development in both rural and urban contexts in Scotland.  It should be seen as normal and routine for a community to acquire and own land that could provide local housing, business development, community facilities, recreation facilities, greenspace, as a fundamental way to create vibrant communities and regional economies.”

 

Ends. 

Notes to news desks:

The Community Land Scotland conference takes place on Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd June).   Details of the full programme: https://www.communitylandscotland.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Making-Community-Landownership-Mainstream-programme.pdf

Contact Dr Calum MacLeod, Policy Director for Community Land Scotland for further information on 07974829149 or email calum.macleod@communitylandscotland.org.uk

20th June 2019