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Land reform bill passes stage 3

Published: 16 Mar 2016 19:50

“Landmark moment” for land reform journey.

Legislation to transform how land is used and governed has been passed by the Scottish Parliament today.

The Land Reform (Scotland) Bill will:

- Allow Ministers to create a public register of those with a controlling interest in land and increase the transparency around land ownership
- Encourage and support responsible, diverse land ownership
- Address issues of fairness, equality and social justice connected to the ownership of, access to and use of land in Scotland
- Introduce a new process to sell or assign farm tenancies, creating a secure route out of farming for those without a successor

Speaking after the stage three debate, Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Dr Aileen McLeod said:

"The passing of the Land Reform Bill is a landmark moment in our land reform journey. It is a result of many years of work to ensure our land is owned and used in the public interest and for the benefit of the people of Scotland.

"This radical legislation will make important changes to specific rights and responsibilities over land, including provisions to increase the transparency of land ownership, which have never before been seen in this country. It will allow us to provide guidance to landowners and tenants and allow communities to be involved when decisions are taken about land. The Bill will also remove the existing exemption of business rates for shooting estates and deer forests.

"This is a significant next step, but is not the end of our land reform journey - I want to do even more to help future generations benefit from our land. Going forward we will establish the Scottish Land Commission, publish a Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement and continue our work towards our one million acre target to community ownership by 2020."

Speaking on the agricultural holdings part of the Bill, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and the Environment, Richard Lochhead said:

"This ambitious and radical Bill is a significant moment in how Scotland's land is owned, used, governed and managed to best deliver for the people of Scotland.The passing of the Land Reform Bill represents a major step forward for tenant farmers.

"The package of measures included in the Bill will improve security and investment conditions for existing tenants, deliver the environment to create opportunities for new entrants and to ensure an appropriate balance between tenants' and landlords' rights in the context of the wider public interest.

"It will also revitalise the sector by creating new routes into farming and providing the flexibility for businesses to grow. Our tenant farmers are an important part of agriculture which in turn is the foundation of our booming food and drink industry, this Bill will help ensure the tenanted sector has a vibrant future in Scotland."