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Clarity Sought on De-crofting Option

NFU Scotland is calling on its crofting members to come forward with evidence if rules within the new Crofting Reform Act are causing difficulties.

The Union is aware of a number of cases where owner-occupier crofters looking to remove all or part of their croft from the crofting system have been unable to do so.  However, the de-crofting option appears to remain open to landlord and tenant occupiers.

The Union believes this may be an unforeseen consequence of changes brought about by the Crofting Reform Scotland Act 2010 and it has written to Scotland’s Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Paul Wheelhouse to seek clarification.

The Union is keen to hear from any of its 700-crofting members if they have been affected.

Legal and Technical Policy Manager Gemma Thomson said:

“We are aware that a small number of our owner-occupier crofting members are having difficulties when looking to de-croft.  It would be useful to know how widespread this problem is.

“Our understanding is that the Crofting Commission has already sought legal advice on whether owner-occupier crofters can apply to the Crofting Commission for a direction that all or part of their croft can cease to be regarded as a croft.   The Crofting Commission's legal advice suggests that there is no provision within the legislation for such a directive to be issued to owner-occupier crofters, in contrast to the option available to landlord and tenant occupiers.

“As result, the Crofting Commission now considers that issuing any directives would be out with their remit due to the legislative position.  We understand it is not accepting any further applications for de-crofting from owner-occupiers, and has put on hold applications it has received.  

“That has serious ramifications for a number of our members that are tied into contracts which require some level of de-crofting, for example those involved in renewable energy projects.  We are aware of members who have entered renewable energy agreements but are now unable to de-croft the land in order to take forward the project.  For those affected, this has the potential to cause serious damage to the stability of their crofting business, as substantial outlay has already been committed to the project.

“We believe that the intention of the Act was that all crofters - tenants and owner-occupiers - should be treated equally.  If it appears that the drafting of the legislation is flawed then we have stressed to the Minister that it is vital steps be taken as a matter of urgency to put this right.”  

Notes to Editors

  • Members can contact NFU Scotland’s Legal and Technical Policy Manager Gemma Thomson on 0131 472 4018 or Email: gemma.thomson@nfus.org.uk

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 33/13


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