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Land reform legislation unveiled

Words: Roger Milne
Scottish Land Reform Bill

The Scottish government has formally published the legislation aimed at widening the ownership of land across the country.

It has been estimated that 432 people control half of the privately owned land in Scotland.

The Land Reform Bill will end tax relief for shooting estates and force the sale of land the community groups if owners are blocking economic development.

Opponents of the bill have described it as a “land grab”.

Other proposals in the bill include measures to clarify information about land, its ownership and its value, with a Scottish Land Reform Commission being set up to make recommendations on future reforms.

The bill has also been designed to encourage better information and greater transparency on the ownership of land through the Land Registry.

As well the bill should usher in improvements in both the common good land regime and the right to roam arrangements. The government has set a target of doubling the amount of land in community ownership from the current 500,000 acres to one million acres by 2020.

Aileen McLeod, the SNP minister for land reform, said: “we want to ensure that future generations have access to land required to promote business and economic growth and to provide access to good quality, affordable food, energy and housing.