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Crown Estate Tenants Prepare For Stakeholder Meeting

NFU Scotland’s President Allan Bowie has met with Crown Estate farming tenants in Banffshire today (14 September) ahead of the inaugural stakeholder meeting scheduled for Edinburgh later this week.

The Union’s President met with farm tenants on the Glenlivet estate and will attend the first meeting of the Stakeholder Advisory Group on Wednesday 16 September. The group has been set up at the request of Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead to look at future management options for the Crown Estate.

Under the draft Scotland Bill – and included within the Smith agreement – it is proposed to devolve Crown Estate assets in Scotland to the Scottish Government. The Union has a significant number of members who are agricultural tenants on Crown Estate rural land, on the Glenlivet, Whitehill, Applegirth, and Fochabers Estates.  They have concerns about any potential impact on their farming business that may arise from assets being devolved.

Since early spring, the Union has been meeting with Crown Estate tenants.  It also helped facilitate a meeting in May between concerned tenants and members of the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs committee.

Speaking from Banffshire, Mr Bowie said: “We have worked hard to ensure the interests of our members who are Crown Estate tenants across Scotland are taken into consideration when this aspect of the Scotland Bill is up for discussion.

“Whilst there can be niggles in any relationship between landlord and tenant, over issues like investment and repairs, there is a degree of trust in the existing management arrangements and many wish the status quo to remain following the passage of the Scotland Bill.

“In principle, our members have no objection to the devolution of the management of the Crown Estate assets as long as the Scottish Government realises the responsibility it will then assume. Farming and rural estate management can only thrive if both the landlord and the tenant share medium to long term objectives. Fixed-asset investment is essential and can only be justified if looked at in a 10 to 20 year time-frame.

“The Crown Estates have been able to invest in their rural assets by using funds generated by other parts of the estate. If the Scottish estate is allowed to be fragmented this may no longer be possible and support will need to be pumped in to the parts that earn least or they may fail.

“Future management is a core part of discussion.  Any management team put in place must be able to operate free from political interference. While appropriate that it report to the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, it must be able to control its own strategy and budget. It should also be equally representative of all the stakeholders – tenants, management and government.

“We contend that, in general, the farming industry and rural estates have been good custodians of Scotland’s land, given the financial and fiscal climate. A responsible balance must be maintained between traditional industries and industrial, environmental and recreational facilities, if they are to be enjoyed by the many even if they are managed by the few.

“These are points that we will be looking to progress when we sit down with other stakeholders on Wednesday.”

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006
 

Date Published:

News Article No.: 177/15


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