13. Any Further Comments
Question 11: Do you have any further comments?
13.1 Many respondents welcomed the draft Statement as comprising a promising start towards changing culture and furthering the land reform agenda. One National NGO referred to it as powerful tool to focus and frame the direction of travel.
Views on the Statement’s ambition
13.2 A recurring view, emerging largely from National NGOs, was that the Statement could go further to set a realisable vision and encourage a change in thinking. A few respondents considered that the Statement was not sufficiently compelling as currently drafted to drive forward radical change, although one emphasised that the Statement should be fluid enough to develop further over time.
13.3 There were repeated calls for the Statement to be more specific on how landowners, users and managers should be engaged to support desired outcomes; the context in which the Statement will be exercised; and the expectations placed upon the parties involved.
13.4 The non-legal basis of the Statement was referred to by several respondents, with questions raised over the impact of this on driving change. One respondent suggested that replacing “should” in the Principle headings with “will” or “must” might suggest greater purpose.
13.5 One National NGO suggested that the vision should extend beyond five years.
Views on practicalities
13.6 A repeated view amongst National NGOs was that the Statement was pitched at too high a level to offer a realistic proposition on how best to use land. Several respondents emphasised what they saw as the need for more detail on the underpinning mechanisms, such as how current policies will be assessed and reviewed to better reflect the Principles; how the Statement will work in practice; how the Statement fits with wider relevant legislation and incentive programmes.
13.7 One National NGO suggested that case studies may help to illustrate the vision.
Views on omissions or the need for greater emphasis
13.8 A few respondents commented that despite the narrative on human rights based approaches, the Statement does not actually include the term “human rights” which they felt weakened this emphasis.
13.9 Other topics which respondents considered were missing or required more emphasis were:
- Marine environment.
- Socio-economic duty – a Scottish Government policy commitment for 2017.
- Environmental rights including environmental sustainability and climate justice.
- Private owners’ property rights (seen as a key part of human rights legislation).
- Links with the Land Use Strategy.
- Recognition of land as a precondition to food production; equality, sustainability and resilience of Scotland’s food system.
- Links with relevant international land use and management commitments such as the European Landscape Convention.
- Landowners’ responsibilities towards wider society.
- Urban land reform as opposed to what was viewed as an emphasis largely on rural issues in the Statement.
Views on language/phrasing
13.10 Several respondents, across a range of sectors, commented that they perceived the language used in the Statement to be vague in places and open to interpretation. There were a few requests for the definition of “community” to be reviewed to ensure both communities of place and of interest are encompassed, but also to ensure consistency of reference to both throughout.
13.11 A few respondents suggested that “land management” should be re-defined, one remarking that at present the definition confused objectives of management with the state of the land. A need for definition of public or collective benefit was identified; and for “community ownership” to be included within the definitions of landowner and land manager.
Views on implementation
13.12 Several respondents, from a range of sectors, highlighted a well-planned implementation of the Statement as crucial in ensuring its effectiveness. One National NGO suggested that an Action Plan should be developed which outlined the steps for the Scottish Government to take in supporting the embedding of the principles of the Statement. A Communication Plan was also envisaged in order to ensure wide-scale awareness and publicity of the Statement, beyond the usual stakeholder suspects.
Views on monitoring and evaluation
13.13 A recurring view was for the Statement to be underpinned by a robust monitoring and evaluation framework. However, it was acknowledged that the absence of specific actions and targets could make measurement of achievement challenging. A shared view was that this should not deter regular review of progress against the aspirations, and there should be reference to accountability structures within the main body of the Principles.
Email: Chris Bierley, firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House