Par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee to look at pri­or­i­ties in croft­ing re­form

The Oban Times - - FARMING -

IN A bid to ad­dress some of the chal­lenges fac­ing Scot­land’s crofters, the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment’s Ru­ral Econ­omy and Con­nec­tiv­ity Com­mit­tee is to ex­am­ine pri­or­i­ties for croft­ing law re­form.

The Ru­ral Econ­omy and Con­nec­tiv­ity Com­mit­tee scru­ti­nises pol­icy pro­pos­als re­lat­ing to ru­ral af­fairs, trans­port and con­nec­tiv­ity.

Recog­nis­ing that a sig­nif­i­cant amount of work has al­ready been un­der­taken to iden­tify im­prove­ments to croft­ing leg­is­la­tion, the com­mit­tee will hear ev­i­dence from or­gan­i­sa­tions rep­re­sent­ing crofters, croft­ing law ex­perts and the Croft­ing Com­mis­sion on ac­tion which may help ac­cel­er­ate progress in this area.

Con­vener of the com­mit­tee Ed­ward Moun­tain MSP said: ‘Croft­ing brings in­valu­able jobs, pro­duce and in­come to our ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties, and the com­mit­tee un­der­stands the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment will bring for­ward a croft­ing bill in the next few years. De­tailed work has al­ready iden­ti­fied is­sues which the pro­posed leg­is­la­tion might cover, and the com­mit­tee is work­ing to com­ple­ment this with its own re­view of pri­or­i­ties for change.’

Mr Moun­tain con­tin­ued: ‘Croft­ing is­sues can be com­plex and of­ten spe­cific to a lo­cal area. The com­mit­tee wants to hear views from those with di­rect, front-line ex­pe­ri­ence of croft­ing is­sues, and those who have a de­tailed knowl­edge of the law in this area.

‘We have no de­sire to du­pli­cate or go over old ground. Our ob­jec­tive is to iden­tify the key pri­or­i­ties and es­tab­lish whether there is any po­ten­tial for de­liv­er­ing on some of these to quickly al­le­vi­ate cer­tain chal­lenges faced by Scot­land’s crofters.’

On com­ple­tion of the re­view of croft­ing law pri­or­i­ties, the Ru­ral Econ­omy and Con­nec­tiv­ity Com­mit­tee will write to the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment with rec­om­men­da­tions for ac­tion.

This month (Novem­ber) the com­mit­tee has been hear­ing ev­i­dence at the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment from a range of or­gan­i­sa­tions, in­clud­ing the Scot­tish Croft­ing Fed­er­a­tion, Na­tional Farm­ers’ Union Scot­land, Scot­tish Land and Es­tates, a range of croft­ing law ex­perts and the Croft­ing Com­mis­sion. It will hear fi­nal sub­mis­sions on Novem­ber 16 and, fol­low­ing this, will take ev­i­dence from the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment in early December.

Pho­to­graph: An­drew Cowan/ Scot­tish Par­lia­ment The Ru­ral Econ­omy and Con­nec­tiv­ity Com­mit­tee will con­sider croft­ing law re­form.

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