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Union Gears Up for Land Reform Debate

The inclusion of a Land Reform Bill in the first legislative programme laid out by the new First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will see NFU Scotland go to its membership in January to firm up on its response.

An opportunity to discuss land reform with officeholders will be part of regional AGMs being held across Scotland next month.  The high profile subject of land reform has also been added as an agenda item when the Union stages its national AGM in St Andrews in February.

Fresh discussions with its membership will help the Union fine tune its views.  In recent times, NFU Scotland has submitted written evidence to the Land Reform Review Group, whose final report was published in May 2014, and given oral evidence on land reform in the Scottish Parliament.  It has also been very active in engaging with the Agricultural Holdings Legislation Review Group, whose final report is expected in January 2015.

While NFUS has considered many issues around the land reform agenda in recent times, it is keen to consult with its members again on the matter following the launch of the Scottish Government consultation on the future of Land Reform in early December.

NFU Scotland President, Nigel Miller said:
“What is emerging is a three-track approach to land reform.  Community involvement is moving forward with the Community Empowerment Bill, which has already been launched in the Scottish Parliament.

“The proposed Land Reform Bill, as announced by the First Minister, will provide an umbrella for a wide range of issues.  At face value, it could be the vehicle to deliver radical change but it also presents the opportunity for potential wins on agricultural holdings.

“The scale and impact of the proposals should not be underestimated and it is possible that, if existing legislation is to be amended, the number of changes could easily run into three-figures.  That will be a huge legislative undertaking.

“In taking forward the land reform agenda, it presents the ability to create a vehicle to intervene where land use and community aspirations are blocked by land ownership.  In that regard the proposed Land Commission may have a crucial role.

“Another high profile piece of legislation – the Succession Bill – is expected early in the New Year.  Our understanding is that measures that could have potentially impacted on family farms are unlikely to be considered until a second phase of the bill, and will not now come forward until after the next Scottish elections in 2016.  

“A policy session on Land Reform is a hugely important addition to NFU Scotland’s agenda at our national AGM in St Andrews in February.  Before then, meetings will be held in all NFU Scotland regions during January to consider NFU Scotland’s position.

“That timetable fits with the expected publication of the Agricultural Holdings Legislation Review Group’s final report, scheduled for next month.

“That means 2015 is set to be a landmark year for land reform issues and we have hard work ahead of us to ensure all legislation has positive ramifications for our sector.”

Notes to Editors

  • The Scottish Government consultation on the future of land reform in Scotland is available at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2014/12/9659
  • NFU Scotland President Nigel Miller and Chief Executive Scott Walker will be meeting with members to discuss land reform proposals.  The discussions will form part of the regional AGM meetings taking place in January.  Further information available from regional managers or Gemma Thomson on 0131 472 4018 or gemma.thomson@nfus.org.uk
  • The list of Regional AGMs is below:

Regional AGM Dates
 

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006 or Ruth McClean on 0131 472 4108

Date Published:

News Article No.: 194/14


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