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The Land Reform (Scotland) Bill An Introduction

In the first of a series of blogs, Poppy Baggott from our Rural team helps to unpick the Scottish Government's land reform proposals.

Introduction from the Land Reform (Scotland) Bill June 2015

An Act of the Scottish Parliament to make provision for a land rights and responsibilities statement; to establish the Scottish Land Commission, provide for its functions and the functions of the Land Commissioners and the Tenant Farming Commissioner; to make provision about access to, and provision of, information about owners and controllers of land; to make provision about engaging communities in decisions relating to land; to enable certain persons to buy land to further sustainable development; to make provision for non-domestic rates to be levied on shootings and deer forests; to make provision about the change of use of common good land; to make provision about the management of deer on land; to make provision about access rights to land; to amend the law on agricultural holdings to provide for a new form of agricultural tenancy, to remove the requirement to register before tenants of certain holdings can exercise a right to buy, to provide a new power of sale where a landlord is in breach of certain obligations, to provide about rent reviews, to expand the list of the persons to whom holdings can be assigned or bequeathed and to whom holdings can be transferred on intestacy and to make provision about landlords' objections to such successor tenants, to provide for a 2 year amnesty period in relation to certain improvements carried out by tenants, and to provide for notice of certain improvements proposed by landlords; and for connected purposes.

The above excerpt is taken directly from the introduction to the Land Reform (Scotland) Bill, setting out the points which have risen to the top of the caldron of issues and bugbears which, after much research and discussion, were presented to the Scottish Ministers for consideration.  It is proposed that The Land Reform (Scotland) Bill be finalised by May 2016.  Until such time that it is passed, all points within the Bill are suggestions rather than law.  

Since the Bill's release on the 23 June 2015, the focus has been on  just a few of the more controversial' points. These have included the proposal that sporting estates be subject to non-domestic rates and the suggestion that the proposals constitute what some have branded a land grab.'  Perhaps unsurprising giving the strength of feeling on all sides, publicised views slant fairly steeply one way or the other and, inevitably, specific points of interest are cherry picked as headline fodder but are not necessarily considered within their true context. 

As such, we thought a welcome approach would be to provide an objective take on salient proposals within the bill over the coming weeks and to analyse them in bite sized' chunks in the hope that this will make a complex document more user friendly throughout the duration of the Bill's parliamentary progress.

Next week, Poppy looks in depth at the proposals to levy non-domestic rates on shootings and deer forests.