THE Scottish Government has unveiled “transformative” proposals to address long-standing land ownership concerns.

It is thought tackling the issue will help resolve the climate emergency while empowering rural communities.

A consultation on the ambitious Land Reform Bill, which is expected to be introduced by the end of 2023, has been launched.

The plans aim to address the highly-concentrated pattern of land ownership in rural Scotland.

The proposed measures include the introduction of a public interest test for transfers of large-scale landholdings.

Owners of large holdings will be required to give prior notice to community bodies on their intention to sell under the plans.

And there will be a requirement for those seeking land-based subsidies to have the land registered in the Land Register, to ensure transparency around who benefits from the public funding.

Environment and Land Reform Minister Mairi McAllan visited the Ecology Centre in Kinghorn, Fife, to formally launch the consultation.

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The centre is a community-led charity that has been supported with grants from the Scottish Land Fund.

McAllan said: “Land reform is a pervasive issue in Scotland. We have a strong record of progressive and innovative land reform – but this journey is not complete.

“We must continue to develop and implement land reform that addresses historical inequalities and, at the same time, we must rise to changing social, environmental and economic issues in contemporary Scotland.

The National: Mairi McAllanMairi McAllan

“I recognise and am fully committed to tackling the adverse effects of scale and concentration of land ownership – and empowering communities in the process.

“I am also clear that while investment in Scotland’s natural capital is vital to tackle the climate and nature emergencies, we must ensure that our people and communities are not disadvantaged and, indeed, can benefit.”

And she said “improving transparency” in land ownership will be a priority.

She added: “That’s why this summer we will be consulting on a wide range of transformative proposals – including our aim to ensure that the public interest is considered on transfers of particularly large-scale landholdings.

“The new bill will be a significant step forward in ensuring our land is owned diversely and is used in the public interest and to the benefit of the people of Scotland.”

Ailsa Raeburn, chair of Community Land Scotland, welcomed the consultation.

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She said: “We very much hope the new Bill encompasses a range of measures that effectively tackles the endemic issues of scale and concentration of land ownership and the adverse effects this has on local communities.”

The proposals from the bill are based on recommendations from the Scottish Land Commission (SLC).

Andrew Thin, chair of the SLC, said: “The Scottish Land Commission has been working over the last five years to provide a robust evidence base for our recommendations on making land work better in the public interest, highlighting the opportunity land reform can bring to Scotland and its people.”

People can take part in the consultation here