Crofting faces ‘catastrophe’
THE CHAIRMAN of the Crofting Commission has asked First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to outline her position on the allocation of millions of pounds worth of cash that he believes has been allocated unlawfully to grazings committees.
Crofting Commissioner Colin Kennedy said there is going to have to be ‘a dirty day’ to sort out the misunderstandings within the Scottish Government.
Mr Kennedy said: ‘ Whether known or unknown, the government has been acting against legal advice,’ which, he said, was received by the Crofting Commission. ‘Subsequently, the Scottish Government has been funding multi-million-pound projects on crofting land against advice the Crofting Commission had received,’ he added.
Mr Kennedy said a number of grazings committees have been applying for and accepting Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) cash with no legal entitlement to do so, under section 48 (1) of the Crofters Act.
Mr Kennedy added: ‘The commission received legal opinion from Sir Crispin Agnew QC in late June. ‘His opinion at that time was that grazings committees are not eligible to claim SRDP.’ Mr Kennedy outlined his position to The Oban Times: ‘This matter is not going to simply vanish and I will ensure these issues will be resolved.
‘Officials advising the First Minister and her cabinet ministers will need to modify their position to stem a catastrophic situation emerging in crofting.
‘I am not willing to allow my reputation to continue to be trashed as though I knew nothing about crofting while those with random agendas are afforded support from a government which clearly, by the actions of its cabinet secretary, fails to understand the Crofters (Scotland) Act 1993,’ he continued.
A Scottish Government spokesman responded: ‘We are absolutely clear that common grazings committees are eligible to apply for certain SRDP schemes which are administered by the Scottish Government.
‘The Crofting Commission is a public body that operates at arm’s length of Scottish ministers and its board is responsible for taking decisions in line with the law. It is wrong to suggest that the Scottish Government has acted inappropriately. We have not asked, and would not ask, the Crofting Commission to act outside its powers.’
Colin Kennedy: questioned the legality of some projects.