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Community Land Scotland

Beyond community benefit – a new deal for thriving communities

2 October 2023

Today we publish a paper which proposes a transformational system of new community partnership agreements to ensure community priorities are included from the earliest stage of new economic developments, such as renewables or natural capital projects.

We will always put the full ownership of land and assets by local communities first in our ambitions. Achieving that may not always be immediately possible and this paper sets out initial thinking on what a community partnership model may look like. It draws directly on recent community experience in negotiating an improved deal between it and a new private owner and seeks to go further, and on a recent paper by Alastair McIntosh that we published. What follows envisages Thriving Community Partnership deals delivering across a range of fronts, including community ownership of key land assets within a wider land holding.

Only where the principles envisaged here are met might those who seek a social license to operate, to enhance their ESG (environmental, social and governance) credentials, or to meet emerging business standards be likely to be granted the appropriate recognition by communities. It is for communities to say when they feel the arrangements are right for them, not to have others’ standards imposed on them.

Ailsa Raeburn, Chairperson of Community Land Scotland, said ‘Existing models see local communities as a tick-box consideration, with at most contributions to a ‘community benefit fund’, which is often a fraction of the money generated from the projects. We need to move beyond this model and have the community actively involved from the very start of any development process, deciding how everyone in the community can benefit comprehensively from, what are often, very profitable developments.’

‘In 2023, renewables, for example, have huge economic development potential for rural areas of Scotland if properly managed. We need an enforceable system that ensures the local people in these communities get a significant benefit with economic development locked into the local area, as well as securing returns for the landowners and development companies’


For further information contact Community Land Scotland’s Policy Manager, Dr Josh Doble