‘Everyone must benefit from Scotland’ s land’
Scotland’s land is our most fundamental natural asset, and its benefits should be shared by all.
Land is essential to so many parts of people’s lives, from housing, employment and recreation to being absolutely vital to agriculture and other industries.
We have made significant progress in land reform in the 20 years since devolution. We have taken historic steps towards modernising laws around land ownership and rights over land, and more recently, established a framework of land governance, rights and responsibilities that contributes to a sustainable, fairer society.
We have introduced community right to buy initiatives that have seen over 563,000 acres now in community ownership, allocated more than £16million via the Scottish Land Fund to assist this process, and remain firmly committed to reaching our target of one million acres of land in community ownership.
In April we created the Scottish Land Commission and charged it with delivering focus, expertise and energy to ongoing and future land reform. This week it published its first strategic plan of priorities.
However, we will not rest on our laurels. We now need – in collaboration with stakeholders – to drive forward sustained progress, to ensure land contributes more to our national economic, social and cultural ambitions.
We want to see greater diversity of ownership, which can contribute to more sustainable communities and a fair society. We want to see greater transparency of ownership, and about the decisions that impact others, so that communities are involved in decisions that affect them.
That is why this week, I published our Scottish Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement, the first such statement in the world. Its vision is for a Scotland with a strong, dynamic relationship between land and its people, where all land contributes to a modern successful country, and where rights and responsibilities in relation to land are fully recognised and fulfilled.
The statement will help ensure that land can support our ambitions for a fairer and more prosperous country, where more people and communities can benefit from and enjoy land.
It is based on six guiding principles of: a fair and socially just system of land rights and responsibilities; a greater diversity of land ownership management and use; more opportunities for communities to own, lease and use land; high standards of land ownership, management and use; improved transparency about the ownership, use and management of land; and greater collaboration and community engagement about land.
It will provide guidance to all users and owners of land.
There are, of course, different views on how we can best ensure that Scotland’s land contributes to the common good, while properly balancing public and private interests, and I welcome the continuing debate on this.
In rural areas many farmers and landowners already make a valuable contribution to our economy and local communities. However, good practice is unfortunately not universal.
The statement published this week signals our determination to continue leading the way in ensuring that our urban and rural land play a full and integral part in achieving inclusive growth, a sustainable economy and social justice.
Scotland is rich in land, and I believe it is only right and fair that everyone benefits. Lanarkshire farmer Jimmy Warnock has been appointed chairman of Highland Show organisers, the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS)
He replaces Keith Brooke who stepped down in August.
Mr Warnock has been chairman of the society’s education committee and the Royal Highland Education Trust (RHET).
He was made a fellow of the Royal Agricultural Societies in 2012 and was awarded an MBE in 2015 for services to education and communication in agriculture.
He farms the 500-acre Sandilands Farm near Lanark which ran a dairy enterprise until 2016. It currently carries a suckler herd, cereals and both pedigree and com- mercial sheep. Mr Warnock is also a director of a haulage company, Farm Field Fresh, which transports foodstuffs in refrigerated containers to supermarkets all over the UK.
He said he was “hugely honoured” to be elected chairman.
“RHASS and its educational charity, RHET, play an important role in improving the understanding of rural Scotland and I will employ my usual vigour and enthusiasm to continue this work,” he said.
RHASS chief executive Alan Laidlaw said Mr Warnock had shown true dedication and commitment to RHASS over many years.
He added: “The society is the lead agri-organisation in Scotland, and we have an invaluable role to play in supporting and showcasing the best in Scottish farming, food and rural life. Jimmy brings a wealth of knowledge and experience and unbound enthusiasm to the role of chairman.”