The Scottish Tenant Farmers Association has welcomed the commitment made by Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead to find solutions to ease the plight of Small Landholding tenants. Addressing the AGM of the STFA, the Cabinet Secretary announced that the Scottish Government would be investigating the extent of small landholdings in Scotland and what solutions can be found to bring them in to the 21st Century.
Responding to the Cabinet Secretary’s announcement, STFA spokesman, Angus McCall said; “STFA has been pressing the government for some time now to address the difficulties faced by small landholders who are still governed by century old legislation dating from 1911. Successive reforms to crofting and tenancy law have been ineffectual and the commitment made by Richard Lochhead last week to survey Small Landholding tenants and seek their views is most welcome.
“Although small landholdings were once common throughout Scotland and government statistics show that there may be up to 100 of these holdings still in existence, it is not known for sure many there are and where they are, apart from those on the Island of Arran. These tenants find themselves in a unique and unenviable situation – although they share similar rights of security with crofters and 1991 tenants, they have few of the benefits. They have had to provide the entire infrastructure of their farms; housing, buildings fencing and drainage but they have neither the rights of purchase of the crofter nor even the pre-emptive rights of the agricultural tenant. Moreover, they have limited assignation rights and little in the way of end of tenancy compensation.
“The Crofting Reform Act tried to give small landholders in the designated crofting areas the right to convert to crofts, but the legislation has proved to be too cumbersome and complex to operate and, as yet no small landholdings have been converted to crofts. The Small Landholding tenants are now looking for a simpler and more practicable route to give them the same rights as other tenant farmers and crofters. STFA understands the government will be issuing survey forms to all known small landholding tenants in the next few weeks. Anyone in that situation who does not receive a form should contact get in touch with the government directly.
“The recent tenancy review report paid little attention to this group of disadvantaged tenant farmers and is now important that tenancy reform does not once again leave them behind to languish in laws only fit for a bygone era.”