Response 812409840

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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.
It's a good start but I would implore the Government to be bold, this is a big but vital job and those with vested interests are going to be very publicly critical.. we are a few hundred years behind Europe with regards to land reform, it is time.

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:
Community ownership and control over decisions on commercial use of the land on which they dwell. Communities, particularly though not exclusively those living remotely (i.e. Highlands and Islands) should have the right to buy land in order to provide improvements to community services such as renewable energy, telecoms etc.
Action Two:
Reclaiming Scotland's land for the recreational use of Scotland's people. Looking at many countries around the world there is a 'hut' lifestyle, I've personally witnessed this in Iceland and Norway but am aware of the same in other places. I would love such a philosophy to have the ability to bloom in Scotland, where there is the possibility for people to own (or share) a bothy where they can escape during their holidays and reconnect with the land and nature.
Action Three:
Land Value Tax - it is quite simply the most progressive tax available.

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:
Compile and control a land register. Keep an eye on the few who own large swathes of the country and ensure that any land they own is being utilised to the benefit of the communities it serves. Ensure transparency. Ensure adherence to rules. Able to explain the rules. Separate from Government. Can lobby Government and ensure adherence to stated plans.

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

Enter comments here.
It has to be independent and should consist of a spread of experienced players, academics, representatives of rural and urban communities, land owners, legal representatives. It cannot be one-sided and must represent the landlords too, however no one side should be able to halt or block any progress.

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
Ticked Yes
No

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

Advantages:
Multinational corporations couldn't own land under the guise of trusts.

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

Enter comments here
Not 100% sure but there should be further restrictions in my mind. There has to be an insistence on interactivity and sustainable use of the land, absentee landlords have to be banished. Enforcement though should be one of the roles of the commission but backed by a comprehensive but transparent and easy to follow legal framework. There should be a low tolerance for breaches of the restrictions, a three strikes and you're out approach just encourages 2 breaches. There should be fines perhaps linked to land value and ranked in order of seriousness of the breach. There should be an option to confiscate land from serial breachers.

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?
I would like there to be a complete record of history of ownership as well as value, estate (or plot) size, owner information etc. Clarity would not only help co-ordinate and manage land ownership more efficiently but it would also help normal members of the public understand the necessity for such reforms.

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:
Helps to highlight the need for change Helps to control restrictions on ownership Helps to quickly identify owners in order for communities or tenants to contact landlords when necessary. Brings Scotland in line with the normal state of affairs of European countries
Recommendations for achieving better co-ordination of information on land
More is more in this case. Information is knowledge and knowledge begets understanding. If people have a strong understanding of their position then they are able to co-operate better.

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?
Sustainability is key. I would like the power to take action delegated from ministers to the commission or a permanent body created as a result of the commission.

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?
I would like to see a commission (or other body) encouraging land owners to sell or lease land to communities (or individuals) with plans for sustainable business which would operate to the benefit of the local communities. In a manner which encourages new job creating opportunities which would help combat the drain of young folk out of rural communities.

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?
Whether it be a new land commission or a collection of existing commissions it is imperative that land owners operate the land responsibly with sustainability, environmental concerns and socio-economical improvements in mind.

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?
Some sort of body mediating or at least encouraging land owners and (potential) tenants or communities to work together to address these issues. Concentrating on industries or businesses which bring value to the area, which increase employment opportunities, which boost tourism but which have to be sustainable, carbon neutral and as green as they can be.

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:
Transparency Evidence of charitable land use

22. How should “community” be defined?

How should “community” be defined?
Tenants Local land occupiers however at all times such activities should also be reported to the Land Commission or equivalent public body. The land register should be updated accordingly.

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?
Revoking the land. Hard ball is the only way to achieve equitable land ownership.

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?
Everyone paying their fair share. There is no acceptable reason for these rate exemptions ever being granted.

26. What do you think the disadvantages would be?

What do you think the disadvantages would be?
Some wealthy land owners may grumble a bit.

Common Good

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

What might any new legal definition of common good look like?
This isn't an area that I have any knowledge or awareness of. There should however be protections placed on common good properties and an attitude that more property should be utilised for common good. This is based on a literal reading of the term common good rather than any legal definition as I do not know what that definition is.

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
Ticked Yes
No

33. What do you think the advantages would be?

What do you think the advantages would be?
Agriculture is of great importance to the Scottish economy and all efforts should be made to improve the lot for our farmers and crofters. Many of the recommendations would enable the agriculture industry to become more sustainable, to grow and in turn increase sales of domestic produce. My understanding is that many farmers and crofters are restricted due to unfair rental agreements and also the dominance of large supermarket chains which slash the prices of their produce. Some of the measures recommended could alleviate these pressures and enable Scotland's agriculture industry to grow. That can only be of benefit to every man, woman and child in Scotland.

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?
Public interest being protected Increased regulation but hopefully with increased transparency.

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.
More equitable land ownership and sustainable use. Increased local employment opportunities. Increased economic activity in local areas. Potential with increased access to land use to increase local specialised industries and indirectly increase tourism. Opportunities to directly increase tourism. A re-awakening of Scotland and re-attachment to her land. Increased transparency and understanding over land ownership. A leap 200 years forward to be of an equivalent level of equitable land ownership as most of Europe. If not managed correctly then there could be detrimental impact on the natural beauty and environment of Scotland. If not managed correctly then there could be increased confusion over land ownership. Some landed gentry may cry.

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?
These recommendations and further actions should be designed in order to increase the fortunes of the deprived. The gap between rich and poor needs to be closed and the more financially fortunate need to pay into the system in an equitable way.
How can we make sure that all individuals and communities can access the benefits of these proposals?
Be open and honest. Be informative. Rise above party politics. Educate the populace and explain clearly in non-jargon what the reasons and benefits of the bills are. During the pre-referendum period there were some excellent informative mail-shots. Let's not make people rely on press and media to explain these changes, the Government should be directly communicating with the public and explaining their proposals and decisions. This of course extends outside of land reform.

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.
There will be an increased burden of regulation and there needs to be a suitable public body created in order to take on the responsibility of regulation. There will and indeed should be an increased burden on individuals, trusts or organisations who own land whether it be rural or urban. This should be implemented in a progressive way and Land Value Tax is the obvious manner to do so. There will however be vast opportunities which I suggest will outweigh the burdens or costs. Increased rural employment, increased domestic and international tourism, a blossoming agriculture industry, a revitalised economy and big strides towards economic equality are just some of those benefits.

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.
There may be impacts upon the privacy of individuals, however Scotland shouldn't belong to individuals and the rest of us deserve to know who controls our land.

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.
There is the potential for detrimental environmental impact if not managed correctly. This has to be a primary driver for any regulatory body and for all commission recommendations. Current land-owners will argue that they preserve or protect our environment (though those who use their grounds for the slaughter of wildlife stand on tenuous ground). In some cases they may have a point. Any and all proposed changes to land use should follow sustainability and eco-friendly criteria before being granted permission to progress. Protection of the land that makes Scotland so distinctive and beautiful MUST be a primary consideration. However, if correctly managed the proposals could lead to an increased focus on community owned renewable energy projects, it could lead to an increased focus on sustainable farming, it could lead to the people of Scotland reconnecting with the land, it could lead to an increase in tourism, local specialisation, local democracy and vastly more equitable distribution of land.