Following a consultation which closed in March 2017, the Scottish Government published the Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement on 28th September 2017.
The role of the Statement is to influence the future of land reform in Scotland and to inform policy and practice around land issues in Scotland. The Scottish Government’s press release commented that it …”underlines the Government’s commitment to on-going and long-term land reform”.
The 2016 Act provides that the Scottish Government must promote the principles in the Statement when exercising its functions. The Scottish Land Commission must also have regard to the Statement within its work. Beyond this, the Scottish Government hopes that the Statement will be considered by all those with decision making powers in relation to land to consider how their decision-making powers could contribute to realising the vision which is set out in the Statement:-
“A Scotland with a strong and dynamic relationship between its land and people, where all land contributes to a modern and successful country, and where rights and responsibilities in relation to land are fully recognised and fulfilled.”
Principles of the Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement
The vision is supported by 6 principles which are described as "high-level and ambitious and, together, provide a goal to work towards". The Statement includes case studies and advisory notes for each of the principles which are set out below:-
- The overall framework of land rights, responsibilities and public policies should promote, fulfil and respect relevant human rights in relation to land, contribute to public interest and wellbeing, and balance public and private interests. The framework should support sustainable economic development, protect and enhance the environment, help achieve social justice and build a fairer society.
- There should be a more diverse pattern of land ownership and tenure, with more opportunities for citizens to own, lease and have access to land.
- More local communities should have the opportunity to own, lease or use buildings and land which can contribute to their community’s wellbeing and future development.
- The holders of land rights should exercise these rights in ways that take account of their responsibilities to meet high standards of land ownership, management and use. Acting as the stewards of Scotland’s land resource for future generations they contribute to sustainable growth and a modern, successful country.
- There should be improved transparency of information about the ownership, use and management of land, and this should be publicly available, clear and contain relevant detail.
- There should be greater collaboration and community engagement in decisions about land.
The Scottish Government is required to review and potentially revise the Statement in five years’ time and it has been noted that in the future the Scottish Land Commission may provide guidance on how the Statement should be applied.