Welcoming new land reform proposals outlined in the First Minister’s speech on the programme for government, David Cameron, Chair of Community Land Scotland said:
“We welcome these important proposals, seeking to address a range of issues that have warranted attention for many years. The growth in the land fund will help many aspiring communities to a better future. The range of proposal shift considerations about land from being largely about private interest, to land issues being a public interest matter. Giving Ministers the power to intervene in land if the public interest is not being served is particularly important and welcome. The Land Reform Commission offers the opportunity to constantly monitor land issues and ensure our land laws are updated to meet changing circumstances. Their focus needs to be established as being about land being owned and managed into the future to deliver greater social justice.”
“The acid test of all of this will be whether in a decade’s time and beyond our land ownership patterns have begun to shift decisively and are fairer, or whether Scotland’s land is still largely owned by a small and privileged elite.”
The proposals to begin to use tax powers to affect the governance of land are important, and Community Land Scotland supports the use of tax powers in affecting land questions. Re-introducing sporting rates is one such relevant power to use. There may be some consequences for some community owners and we will pay particular attention to the proposals for exemption for charities and for public interest companies, such a community land owners, that exist to deliver community benefits from better land use and development.