6. Impact Assessment
The Scottish Government is committed to promoting equality and removing or minimising disadvantage which may be experienced by different groups of people. The Scottish Government has a legal duty to consider the impact of policies on people who may be differently affected in relation to the “protected characteristics” under the Equality Act 2010  . The protected characteristics are age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.
Question 15: Please tell us about any potential impacts, either positive or negative, that you consider the proposals in this consultation may have on people who may be differently affected in relation to the protected characteristics.
6.1 Five respondents made substantive comments in response to this question.
6.2 There was acknowledgement of the potential for people with disabilities and older people in particular to be excluded from some forms of engagement due to access challenges. However, it was noted that the draft Guidance refers to the need to use a range of methods of engagement and accessible meeting venues, with one professional body suggesting a balance should be struck between land owners/managers being able to demonstrate they have made an effort to engage in an accessible manner, without being placed under undue burden to ensure access.
6.3 A few respondents considered that the Guidance should be more explicit in stating that inclusive principles for engagement should be followed. A NDPB referred to the examples of how to accommodate a range of support needs in the National Standards for Community Engagement as providing relevant information.
Business and regulation
The Guidance on engaging communities on decisions relating to land is advisory, and will not directly impose new regulatory burdens on businesses, charities or the voluntary sector.
Question 16: Please tell us about any potential impacts, either positive or negative, costs and burdens that you think may arise as a result of the proposals within this consultation.
6.4 Seven respondents answered the question with substantive, relevant comments. Most commonly they suggested that there will be additional costs to the land owners/managers and to communities, associated with engagement activities. A few respondents suggested that the impact of additional costs to land owners/managers will depend on the size of their business, with costs not envisaged as overly onerous, unless the business is small.
6.5 A local authority cautioned that money could be wasted where views are not taken on board following engagement, and this is not adequately explained. A professional body suggested that money could be saved by early engagement and fostering of on-going good relationships between land owner/manager and communities.
6.6 A private company expressed concern that investors may be deterred from investing in Scotland due to what they perceived to be the increased financial burden on land owners.
The Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005  ensures those public plans that are likely to have a significant impact on the environment are assessed and measures to prevent or reduce adverse impacts are sought, where possible, prior to implementation of the plan in question.
Question 17: Please tell us about any potential environmental impacts, either positive or negative, that you consider any of the proposals in this consultation may have.
6.7 Eight respondents answered this question with substantive, relevant comments.
6.8 There was general agreement that the proposals had the potential to impact positively on the environment, by raising awareness of environmental issues and enabling different stakeholders to understand different perspectives.
6.9 An Academic and a local authority suggested that environmental impacts may emerge where local community views and opposition to various proposals create outcomes such as greater use of green and brownfield sites for economic and housing development; decreased game management; heightened sensitivity to perceived impacts of windfarms; and so on.
The Scottish Government is mindful that proposals which require people to share information are likely to have impacts in respect of privacy. The Guidance on engaging communities on decisions relating to land is voluntary, and will not directly require any individual or organisation to disclose personal or commercially sensitive information if they are not content to do so.
Question 18: Please tell us about any potential impacts on privacy, either positive or negative, that you consider may arise as a result of the Guidance. Please be as specific as possible.
6.10 Two respondents considered that there may be negative impacts on privacy as a result of the Guidance.
6.11 A private company suggested that there may be a negative impact on the privacy of land owners if they are required to disclose commercially sensitive proposals.
6.12 A local authority considered that some people may be reluctant to be involved with local issues/neighbourhood debates, particularly where people are in tenanted farms or properties, or the like. In addition, they suggested that the land owner may be reluctant to raise issues if there is likely to be a local backlash.