Land reform is top of agenda at Council’s Area Committee

The first item at today’s Nairn and Badenoch and Strathspey Area Committee was Land Reform as the meeting started with a presentation by David Cameron, Chairman of Community Land Scotland.  Members then took the opportunity to discuss in particular the council’s partnership with Community Land Scotland and how this affects Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey.

Since the Land Reform (Scotland) Act introduced rights for both communities and crofting communities to proceed with land purchase under certain circumstances in Badenoch and Strathspey, one Council owned property at Abernethy is now in local community ownership and another transfer is pending at Grantown on Spey.

The properties are:

  • land at Abernethy Cemetery (transferred); and
  • the former Strathspey Industrial Estate at Woodlands Terrace, Grantown on Spey (pending transferral).

In order to meet the Scottish Government’s target of achieving double the area of land in community ownership by 2020, Highland Council’s Administration in its “Programme, Working Together for the Highlands 2012 – 2017”, highlights the economic commitment to promoting and assisting with land reform.

Members noted the findings of the Land Reform Review Working Group published in May 2014 and discussed how the 8 recommendations impacting on local authorities would affect their area:

  • extent of public lands;
  • Common Good Lands;
  • Local community land rights;
  • Community acquisition costs;
  • Urban renewal;
  • New housing;
  • Pattern of rural land ownership; and
  • Land taxation, payments and markets.

The Council’s work in supporting land reform in the Highlands was also noted by Members and the Council’s associate membership of Community Land Scotland and partnership working with the organisation was also welcomed.

Leader of the Nairn and Badenoch and Strathspey Area Committee, Councillor Liz MacDonald said: “There is so much happening in Highland just now in terms of Land Reform and I echo the importance of Highland Council being in partnership and working with, and not for, communities to get the best outcomes for our local groups.

“There are a lot of communities interested now in taking over local assets in our areas and we will work with them to engage with Community Land Scotland where they will get a lot of advice and support.”

A report to members highlighted that The Highland Council is leading in Community Land Ownership with 22.4% of Scotland’s community owned assets in the Highlands.

A recent seminar in October was organised by the Council and Community Land Scotland for council members to learn more about Land Reform with guest speakers representing both land owners and tenants.

Leader MacDonald added: “I welcome the further seminars being organised for communities throughout the Highlands and promotional guidance that will be published on land ownership for communities. Members in Nairn and Badenoch and Strathspey have unanimously given their support to promote land reform in our area among our communities.”

4 Dec 2014
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