SCOTLAND’S leading community land ownership organisation has launched a radical campaign calling for 10% of the country to be community owned by 2030. At present, the figure is only 3%.

Community Land Scotland (CLS) says its campaign – “Scotland’s for Sale! But who’s buying?” – highlights how the land market is increasingly dominated by large, often absentee, investors and how local communities cannot compete to take control of the land round about them.

CLS policy manager Dr Josh Doble said: “The campaign title references the fact that the Scottish land market is unsustainably inflated, driven by corporate investment in commercial forestry, carbon sequestration and land banking.

“Communities are being priced out of the market and we think there needs to be a vigorous national discussion about who owns Scotland’s land and how the land is being used.

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“Aiming for 10% community ownership by 2030 is ambitious but it is realistic and achievable if the Scottish Government shows determination to help our communities to take control and flourish.”

The CLS campaign will set out the problems, solutions and actions facing Scottish land reform. The organisation plans to raise awareness of what land reform means for a new generation by setting out what it described as follows:

  • The deep inequality of existing concentrated landownership patterns and how we got here
  • That the concentration of ownership is a Scotland-wide issue – including building and assets, as well as land
  • The impact of current land ownership patterns upon people’s everyday lives – cost of living, housing, food poverty and ill health, climate and biodiversity crises
  • The cultural, economic and social benefits of diversified land ownership and community land ownership in particular, and the merits of community-led action on the nature crises

Doble continued: “Scotland has one of the most concentrated patterns of land ownership anywhere in the world, with 432 people owning more than 50% of privately owned rural land. This kind of deep-rooted inequality sits at the heart of the biodiversity and climate crisis, the housing and depopulation crisis, our damaging food system and our impoverished local democracy.

“We want to highlight how the pressing issues facing us as a nation are, at their root, land justice issues.

“Community landownership is a distinct Scottish form of land reform which returns land and buildings to the people who actually live on that land or in those areas.

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“It drives local sustainable development and local democracy. It empowers communities and creates community wealth.

“Community Land Scotland is calling on the Scottish Government to commit to ensuring 10% of Scotland’s land is community owned by 2030 – through urgent and ambitious land reform and by working with local communities for a more just and greener Scotland.’

To achieve 10% community land by 2030, Community Land Scotland is calling for three core actions:

  • An ambitious and transformational land reform bill to achieve a fairer more transparent system of land ownership in Scotland through presumed limits on land ownership and better land market regulation with robust Public Interest Tests
  • Amended community right to buy legislation to make it easier for communities to buy land and other assets – through regulation of land market, better and more flexible and longer-term public support for community ownership
  • New community benefit models and partnership working to ensure communities benefit from land whether they own it or not

Doble added: “We need the land to work for all of Scotland – for growing food, for building housing, for green energy and for the development of local opportunity.

“We in Scotland now have a choice; to continue to see the land market largely dominated by corporate investors and absentee owners, or to empower Scotland’s communities to have their fair share of Scotland’s potential.”