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Need to Tackle Neglect in Crofting Bill Proposals

In commenting on the Crofting Reform (Scotland) Bill, NFU Scotland has welcomed the significant improvements written into the Bill since its draft publication in May 2009 but has also highlighted the need for the bill to better tackle key issues such as croft abandonment and neglect.

With approximately 800 crofting members, the Union is well placed to represent the views of those actively managing crofts across all of Scotland’s crofting areas.   It has welcomed the launch of the new Bill and looks forward to helping Scottish Government shape legislation that truly delivers for active crofters. 

The Union’s Crofting, Highlands and Islands Working Group Chair, Mrs Jo Durno said:

“The stated objectives of the Crofting Reform (Scotland) Bill are to put in place a robust regulatory and governance framework for the future of crofting that will reverse its decline and ensure that crofting continues to contribute to sustainable economic growth in some of Scotland’s most remote rural communities.   In our latest submission to the Scottish Government we have recognised that the Bill is significantly improved from last May’s draft, but that it still contains areas of concern for us. 

“In particular, we believe the current proposals for dealing with absenteeism, misuse and neglect of crofts and croft land do not tackle these thorny subjects well enough and we have made suggestions to the Scottish Government on how we think this can be improved.

“The Bill would place a duty on the Crofters Commission to take action in respect of absenteeism and neglect by both tenant and owner-occupier crofters.  This should help to ensure that crofting contributes to economic growth by requiring crofters to be resident on or near their croft and to put it to some form of productive use.

“We are firmly of the opinion that neglect is the most significant issue that must be addressed through the Bill rather than absenteeism alone while absenteeism and neglect together present the worst situation of all.  The purpose of the Bill should be to ensure that the Commission can take effective action to ensure that crofts are actively managed, tackling the issue of neglect first rather than absenteeism on its own.  The primary aim must be one of ensuring active management of crofts rather than determining who should be doing the crofting.

“In trying to tackle absenteeism through the Bill, it would be extremely difficult to justify or unfair to enforce a residency requirement on crofters that would need them to live on or within 10 miles of the croft.  Any distance measurement would be arbitrary and if retained within the Bill, a distance requirement should only be used as a rough benchmark.”  

Notes to Editors

  • A copy of NFU Scotland’s full submission to Scottish Government on the Crofting Reform (Scotland) Bill is available on request.

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 21/10


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