THE Land Reform Bill will fundamentally change the relationship between the people of Scotland and the land that we live, work and depend on.

When the First Minister announced the Bill in her first Programme for Government, in late autumn 2014, and when it he Bill was introduced to Parliament in June 2015, it was welcomed as a radical piece of legislation.

Since then, we have listened to feedback from campaigners and the Scottish Parliament’s rural affairs, climate change and environment committee and we have made a number of changes to make it even more radical. The government has lodged 166 amendments to strengthen the Bill and welcomed the passing of over more than 30 non-government amendments. The successful completion of Stage 2 of the Bill last week was an important step in Scotland’s land reform journey.

The first major change was to make provision for the creation of a public register of persons who control land in Scotland. Quite simply, in too many cases those who actually control land can hide behind obscure company titles or trust arrangements.

The new provisions will provide clear information which gets to the heart of who controls land in Scotland. This offers greater transparency than preventing non-EU entities from owning land in Scotland. This proposal is riddled with legal issues and would not necessarily reveal who controls the land, making it a weaker provision.

Amendments to the Agricultural Holdings provisions in the Bill will allow 1991 Act tenants to retire from farming at a time of their choosing, providing fair compensation for their investment and new routes into farming for those trying to establish themselves in the industry. These proposals have been developed to encourage a vibrant tenanted sector and achieve a fair balance between the interest of tenants and landlords. The policy has been well received by tenant farmers across Scotland.

I also intend to invite the new Scottish Land Commission, once established, to review the issue of common land. This reflects concern that there may be insufficient protection for common land in Scotland and that individuals could use existing legislation and procedures to claim common land against the wider interest.

I have also asked the Scottish Law Commission to review the Division of Commonties Act 1695 with a view to repealing it. This is a potentially obsolete piece of legislation that can still impact on land ownership.

It’s also important we recognise that this Bill, is just the next step on our land reform journey. There’s still more to do. That is why we’re creating a land rights and responsibilities statement, and a dedicated Scottish Land Commission, both of which will help to ensure the focus on land reform continues to grow.

Land reform is central to achieving a number of outcomes around fairness, equality and social justice for the people of Scotland and I’ll continue to ensure reform is at the forefront of our agenda.

Aileen McLeod is minister for Environment, Climate change and Land reform