SHOULD there be a cap on the amoung of Scotland that rich landowners can legally buy?

Mercedes Villalba, a Labour MSP for the North East Scotland region, is looking to limit the acres a person can legally buy in the country while increasing community engagement in any sale process.

Villalba will try to do this through a Land Justice Bill that she intends to put forward in Holyrood after launching a public consultation on its contents.

If successful, the measures could allow publicly owned community trusts and co-operatives the option of taking over land in a bid to reshape how Scotland’s countryside is managed.

The public consultation on the proposed bill should open later this year and assess the limit of any cap with options starting from 1500 acres for the area one person could legally own.

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However, most farmers, crofters, small-scale landowners and allotment holders would not be affected by the measures.  

A further exception to the cap would be if purchase of an area of land that exceeds the cap is in the public interest and follows authorisation after public consultation and approval of a regulator.

Villalba said: “One of the greatest symbols of inequality in Scotland is that of having such a huge concentration of land in the hands of a small number of very wealthy individuals.

"It’s indefensible that the SNP government has left this archaic arrangement untouched during its 15 years in power.

"Even now ministers are only making vague promises about greater transparency on a public right to know who owns the land.

"This will do nothing to tackle the centuries old entrenched inequality of land ownership in Scotland.

"It’s high time that the Scottish Parliament embraced meaningful and substantial reform, by passing a Land Justice bill.

"Allowing community representatives and cooperatives to manage land for the benefit of everyone, would be a timely and modernising reform."