8. Assessing Impact
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 reassigment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, or sex and sexual orientation.
Question 53: Please tell us about any potential impacts, either positive or negative, that you consider the proposals in this consultation may have in respect of equality issues. Please be as specific as possible.
8.1 20 respondents provided a relevant response to this question.
8.2 The most common view was that the proposals would result in greater transparency and enable everyone to be treated equally. Two respondents suggested that the proposals would contribute to highlighting where inequalities exist.
8.3 One stakeholder representative group identified a potentially negative impact if the disclosure of the details of trust beneficiaries resulted in vulnerable people being targets for abuse.
8.4 Seven respondents from four different sectors stated that they could not envisage any potential positive or negative impacts on those with protected characteristics.
Business and regulation
A full Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment will be carried out to analyse whether the regulations are likely to increase or reduce the costs and burdens placed on businesses, the public sector and voluntary or community organisations.
Question 54: Please tell us about any potential costs and burdens that may arise as a result of the proposals within this consultation, and any increase or reduction in the burden of regulation for any sector. Please be as specific as possible.
8.5 27 respondents provided a relevant response to this question.
8.6 Almost all of these respondents identified potential costs which they considered would arise as a result of the proposals:
- Costs to taxpayers: system set-up costs; running costs to ensure databases are up-to-date and effective; costs related to enforcement and addressing legal challenges;
- Costs to land owners: registration; requirement for professional advice;
- Costs of conveyancing: more detailed searches; ensuring appropriate disclosures; and
- Costs of reduced inward investment.
8.7 Whilst some respondents (largely individuals) predicted that increased costs will be minimal, will be partially offset by additional registration income and will reduce over time, others (largely stakeholder representative groups) envisaged more significant costs, particularly to landowners. Several respondents across different sectors predicted substantial costs related to resourcing the new register and its upkeep.
8.8 A few respondents suggested that the scale of additional costs will depend on the nature of the system implemented, the streamlining of its operation and the extent of any exemptions, which were viewed as likely to boost costs due to legal challenges and the creation of loopholes.
The Scottish Government is mindful that proposals that require people to disclose information are likely to have impacts in respect of privacy. A full Privacy Impact Assessment will be conducted to ascertain whether any of the proposals in this consultation will have an impact on the privacy of individuals.
Question 55: Please tell us about any potential impacts, either positive or negative, 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.
8.9 25 respondents provided a relevant response this question, with a few others referring to their response to previous questions.
8.10 One recurring view, particularly amongst individuals, was that whilst some land owners and tenants might view the disclosure of their details as an infringement of their privacy, their concerns will be inconsequential when set against the potential public gains from reliable, accessible and transparent data on ownership.
8.11 A few respondents across different sectors emphasised the need for the proposals to comply with ECHR and data protection protocols, with mixed views on the likelihood of possible challenges on these grounds.
8.12 An individual respondent suggested that vulnerable beneficiaries of trusts may be impacted negatively by the proposals in terms of their identities being revealed. A national non-governmental organisation predicted that the proposals may result in a reluctance to buy land due to concerns over the purchasers' details being disclosed.
The Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005 ensures that 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 a consultation or implementation of the plan in question.
At this early stage in policy development for these regulations, the Scottish Government considers that it is not possible to assess whether environmental impacts will arise. Following this consultation, an assessment will be made as to whether the Government's obligations under the 2005 Act have been complied with.
Question 56: Please tell us about any potential impacts, either positive or negative, that you consider that any of the proposals in this consultation may have on the environment. Please be as specific as possible.
8.13 25 respondents provided a relevant response to this question. Of these, nine did not consider that the proposals would have any particular impact on the environment, either positive or negative. The majority of the others identified positive potential impacts.
8.14 Positive impacts were envisaged in terms of better environmental stewardship leading to more sustainable land management. It was expected that the proposals would result in a reduction in environmental damage and instances of derelict land and pollution, due to owners being identified and held to account.
8.15 A few respondents suggested that the proposals would enable better enforcement of wildlife protection laws and less wildlife crime.
8.16 One individual respondent considered that the proposals may result in more community ownership which in turn could create a positive impact on the environment.
8.17 One private sector body identified potential negative impacts on the environment if investors are deterred from investing in Scottish land due to the proposals, leading to some land not being maintained.
Email: Land Reform
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House