Response 51336615

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Land Rights in 21st Century Scotland

1. Do you agree that the Scottish Government should have a stated Land Rights and Responsibilities Policy?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No

2. Do you have any comments on the draft Land Rights and Responsibilities Policy?

Enter comments here.
This is long overdue and the sooner some action is taken before even more of the country falls into the hands of non tax payers, the better.

3. Considering your long term aspirations for land reform in Scotland, what are the top three actions that you think the Scottish Government should take?

Action One:
Limit the amount of land which can be held by an individual, trust, charity or company.
Action Two:
Where tax avoidance is proven, as is the case with many of the overseas forestry companies operating in Scotland, the land should be offered, on a discounted buy out basis to the community.
Action Three:
When local authorities dispose of land, this should not be offered directly to forestry companies, but put to tender.

A Scottish Land Reform Commission

4. Do you agree that a Scottish Land Reform Commission would help ensure Scotland continues to make progress on land reform and has the ability to respond to emergent issues?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No

5. What do you think the advantages or disadvantages of having a Scottish Land Reform Commission would be?

Advantages:
Probably the only way forward given the slow way things seem to happen in government.
Disadvantages:
That it will become just another QUANGO.

6. Do you have any thoughts on the structure, type or remit of any Scottish Land Reform Commission?

Enter comments here.
Ideally, no lawyers or politicians or cronies of same should be allowed to be members. Instead, the commission members should comprise individuals who can demonstrate at least 10 years success in running a business.

Limiting the legal entities that can own land in Scotland

7. Do you agree that restricting the type of legal entities that can, in future, take ownership or a long lease over land in Scotland would help improve the transparency and accountability of land ownership in Scotland?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No

8. Do you agree that in future land should only be owned (or a long lease taken over land) by individuals or by a legal entity formed in accordance with the law of a Member State of the EU?

Please select one item
Yes
Ticked No

9. What do you think the advantages or disadvantages of such a restriction would be?

Advantages:
Given the political turmoil in England, there is no guarantee that Scotland will remain in the EU, hence, it is not possible to answer. However, if the question was amended to Scottish government rather than EU, the obvious advantage would be that this would restrict, if not, stop the trend for more and more land being owned by fewer and fewer.
Disadvantages:
As above.

10. How should any restriction operate and be enforced, and what consequences might follow if the restriction is breached?

Enter comments here
Very simply, by restricting the area which can be owned.

Information on land, its value and ownership

11. Do you agree that better co-ordination of information on land, its value and ownership would lead to better decision making for both the private and public sectors?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No

12. Do you hold data you could share or is there any data you would wish to access?

Do you hold data you could share or is there any data you would wish to access?
Do not have any data which isn't in the public domain. It would be in the public interest to know why the Forestry Commission gives thousands of hectares away to private forestry companies and exactly which blocks they own/transfer.

13. What do you think the advantages of disadvantages of wider and more flexible sharing of land information would be and do you have any recommendations about how this can best be achieved?

Advantages:
On the basis of a change in law favouring communities, transparency over exactly who the ultimate owner of a block of land is, (including who is the beneficiary of the off shore trusts), would allow better decision making wrt enforcement.
Recommendations for achieving better co-ordination of information on land
As per the US, compulsory registration of the actual owners. In the event of a failure by a trust to comply or if a trust is found to be using a front organisation to hide their ownership, the land should be confiscated with a view to it being given to the community.

Sustainable development test for land governance

14. Do you agree that there should be powers given to Scottish Ministers or another public body to direct private landowners to take action to overcome barriers to sustainable development in an area?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No

15. What do you think the benefits would be and do you have any recommendations about how these can best be achieved?

What do you think the benefits would be and do you have any recommendations about how these can best be achieved?
There are numerous sites across Scotland where local hydro plants could be installed for the benefit of the local community but are never brought to fruition because the land is not owned by that community and they have no right of access for installation.

16. Do you have any concerns or alternative ways to achieve the same aim?

Do you have any concerns or alternative ways to achieve the same aim?
Via the tax regime. In the event that a land owner either prevents access or decides to use the water to sell electricity, they should be forced to pay tax on the catchment area.

A more proactive role for public sector land management

17. Do you agree that public sector bodies, such as Forestry Commission Scotland, should be able to engage in a wider range of management activities in order to promote a more integrated range of social, economic and environmental outcomes?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No

18. What do you think the benefits would be and do you have any recommendations about how this can best be achieved?

What do you think the benefits would be and do you have any recommendations about how this can best be achieved?
Forestry commission land is always better managed from an environmental perspective than private forestry. Hence, where they are allowed to the FC has always done a good job which demonstrates their capability to expand on this.

19. Do you have any concerns or alternative ways to achieve the same aim?

Do you have any concerns or alternative ways to achieve the same aim?
This is the only logical and also lowest cost option. Anything else would just be wheel reinvention.

Duty of community engagement on land management decisions to be placed on charitable trustees

20. Do you think a trustee of a charity should be required to engage with the local community before taking a decision on the management, use or transfer of land under the charity’s control?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No

21. What do you think the advantages or disadvantages would be?

Advantages:
In many cases, charities, via their lobbying activities, are part of the growing trend away from democracy. In almost every case, they choose lunch in the Atrium with a politician over local consultation.
Disadvantages:
Cannot think of any.

22. How should “community” be defined?

How should “community” be defined?
Back to basics and the definition, should be those living, (not just registered), in the parish/parishes involved.

23. What remedies should be available should a trustee of a charity fail to engage appropriately with the local community?

What remedies should be available should a trustee of a charity fail to engage appropriately with the local community?
Removal of charitable status.

Removal of the exemption to business rates for shooting and deerstalking

24. Should the current business rate exemptions for shootings and deer forests be ended?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No

25. What do you think the advantages would be?

What do you think the advantages would be?
In the short term, the land owners, many of whom do not pay tax in the UK, would have to make a contribution. In the medium term, some would balk at the thought of paying tax and would sell up allowing better use of the land. From an environmental perspective hunting for pleasure lacks any logic and, in the long term, allowing the moorland etc to revert to natural forest would give rise to a more sustainable environment for future generations.

Common Good

27. Do you agree that the need for court approval for disposals or changes of use of common good property, where this currently exists, should be removed?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No

28. If removed, what should take the place of court approval?

If removed, what should take the place of court approval?
On a general basis, the Scottish legal system needs a total overhaul and land reform would be the ideal place to start the process. Instead, this process should fall under the local government planning controls.

29. Should there be a new legal definition of common good?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No

30. What might any new legal definition of common good look like?

Do you have any other comments on this issue?
For the benefit of the parish and/or parishioners.

31. Do you have any other comments on common good?

What might any new legal definition of common good look like?
Given the ability of other countries, e.g. Switzerland, to hold referenda and with widespread access to IT, there is no reason, other than desire for political control, why parishioners could not be consulted as to whether a topic was for their common good.

Agricultural Holdings

32. Do you agree that the Scottish Government should take forward some of the recommendations of the Agricultural Holdings Legislation Review Group within the Land Reform Bill?

Please select one item
Yes
Ticked No

34. What do you think the disadvantages would be?

What do you think the disadvantages would be?
Having two sets of legal processes will only benefit one part of the community, namely, lawyers. The overall process of Land Reform should come under one body.

Wild Deer

35. Do you agree that further deer management regulation measures should be introduced to be available in the event that the present arrangements are assessed as not protecting the public interest?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No

36. What do you think the advantages would be?

What do you think the advantages would be?
Painful though it may be, at some point, this particular nettle will have to be grasped and in those areas where the deer population is out of control, action will have to be taken.

37. What do you think the disadvantages would be?

What do you think the disadvantages would be?
None.

Clarifying Public Access: core paths planning process

38. At present, section 18 of the 2003 Act is silent on the issue of resolving objections to a core path plan consultation. Do you agree that access authorities should be required, in the interests of transparency, to conduct a further limited consultation about proposed changes arising from objections?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No

39. Do you agree that section 20 of the 2003 Act should be clarified so that Ministerial direction is not required when an access authority initiates a core path plan review?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No

40. Do you think that the process for a minor amendment to core path plan (as set out in section 20 of the 2003 Act) should be simplified to make it less onerous than that for a full review of a core path plan?

Please select one item
Ticked Yes
No

Assessing Impact

41. Please tell us about any potential impacts, either positive or negative, you feel the draft Land Rights and Responsibilities Policy or any of the proposals for the Bill may have on particular groups of people, with reference to the “protected characteristics” listed above. Please be as specific as possible.

Please tell us about any potential impacts, either positive or negative, you feel the draft land policy or any of the proposals for the Bill may have on particular groups of people, with reference to the “protected characteristics” listed above. Please be as specific as possible.
There will always be winners and losers in any such process, but, in this case the balance has to be in favour of those who have committed to Scotland by living and paying taxes here.

42. What differences might there be in the impact of the Bill on individuals and communities with different levels of advantage or deprivation?

What differences might there be in the impact of the Bill on individuals and communities with different levels of advantage or deprivation?
In the event that a parish could take over land which is currently not generating any revenue for Scotland, that parish could reinvest in the local infrastructure rather than, as present for example, the income being spent in Austria.
How can we make sure that all individuals and communities can access the benefits of these proposals?
Universal access to IT is the first step. Secondly, decisions about what to do with land should be made at a local level.

43. Please tell us about any potential costs or savings that may occur as a result of the proposals for the Bill, and any increase or reduction in the burden of regulation for any sector. Please be as specific as possible.

Please tell us about any potential costs or savings that may occur as a result of the proposals for the Bill, and any increase or reduction in the burden of regulation for any sector. Please be as specific as possible.
As above, this process must be kept away from the courts. The obvious way to reduce costs for the commission would be to enlist support from the business community.

44. Please tell us about any potential impacts upon the privacy of individuals that may arise as a result of any of the proposals contained in this consultation. Please be as specific as possible.

Please tell us about any potential impacts upon the privacy of individuals that may arise as a result of any of the proposals contained in this consultation. Please be as specific as possible.
The press has been dishonest about the impact of the "Right to Roam". Based on the actual impact of the latter and the basic premise that honest people have nothing to hide it is difficult to envisage any -ve impact.

45. Please tell us about any potential impacts, either positive or negative, you feel any of the proposals contained in this consultation may have on the environment. Please be as specific as possible.

Please tell us about any potential impacts, either positive or negative, you feel any of the proposals contained in this consultation may have on the environment.
Very large tracts of Scotland are under or poorly utilised and a move away from some of the current land use towards more sustainable use can only be +ve.