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Enhancing land reform

Published: 10 Feb 2016 15:55

Rural Affairs Secretary confirms amendments to strengthen legislation.

A bill designed to improve the way land in Scotland is used, owned and managed is being significantly enhanced through amendments lodged by the Scottish Government.

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said the changes are strengthening an already radical bill in response to feedback from the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee and key interest groups.

A number of new amendments focussing specifically on the parts of the bill that deal with agricultural holdings will be debated today, including:

• Introducing a new process for tenants to sell or assign their tenancy, to create a secure route out of farming for tenants without a successor.

• Extending the amnesty period from 2 to 3 years, giving tenants longer to register improvements they have carried out which they don't have records for, to make sure those improvements can be eligible for compensation at waygo.

• Adding a code on land agents to the list of Tenant Farming Commissioner's codes.

These changes come in addition to a number of amendments already agreed, including providing for the introduction of a new register to provide information on those with a controlling interest in landowners in Scotland.

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead, said:

"These amendments enhance the Land Reform Bill and include important measures that will make changes to the law around agricultural holdings and deliver a fairer balance of rights between those that own the land and those that work and depend on the land.

"A strong package of measures is now being boosted further by amendments, including changes to introduce repairing leases to get poor land up to a productive standard and arrangements for farmers who wish to move on from their farming tenancy in a managed and secure way.

"I am confident this will ensure the bill delivers important changes and protections that benefit our tenant farmers and the tenant farming sector as a whole. I will continue to listen to any further suggestions and take action where needed across our wider package of land reform measures to deliver the most ambitious package of changes possible over the longer term."