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Concerns about land reform

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Annan and Eskdale
Concerns about land reform

THE chairman of Scottish Land and Estates says the publication of the Land Reform Bill this week will have fundamental and far-reaching changes to the way land is managed in Scotland.

David Johnstone, of Raehills, who is chairman of Scottish Land and Estates, said that although they have real concerns about key elements in the Bill, he believes there is plenty of room for all types of landowners and much can be achieved if owners work together.
He said: “Land reform campaigners continually say that too much land is owned by too few people. In reality, this legislation will have an impact on tens of thousands of people across Scotland who own and manage all sorts and sizes of land holdings.
“We have been very disappointed that in this debate private landownership is pitted against community ownership and landowners are seen as being against reform. This is wrong.”
Lord Johnstone, who owns and manages Annandale Estates in Dumfriesshire, added: “We support community ownership but dearly hope that as this Bill goes through the Scottish Parliament, the major social, economic and environmental contribution of private landowners is also recognised.
“There is plenty of room for all types of landowners and much can be achieved for rural Scotland if owners work together in partnership.”
He said they had real concerns over key elements of this Bill which could have seriously detrimental impacts on land-based businesses and rural areas without seeming to have clear objectives in mind.
They include the proposed right for government ministers to intervene and enforce the sale of property, as well as the proposed end to the exemption of business rates for sporting estates.
This, he said, would add an administrative burden and cost to rural businesses which are already delivering significant public benefits.
Lord Johnstone – pictured – added: “Another troubling issue is the proposal to very significantly extend the right of succession for secure tenant farmers.
“In future, we firmly believe that any debate on land should be forward-looking and concentrated on how to make the best use of land.”

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