FURTHER LAND REFORM ISSUES …

SCOTTISH LAND FUND
Tied in with the Land Reform Bill, 10 million is being set aside in this New Opportunities Fund to assist the Communities Right to Buy. Community Land Units of Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise will administer the Fund during 2001 and 2002.
TITLE CONDITIONS BILL
If you have 38, and a good deal of spare time, why not get yourself a copy of the 400 page Scottish Law Commission's Report from your local HMSO Bookshop. This will prepare you to take part in the pending consultation exercise on the conditions attached to the ownership and management of land in Scotland. This will culminate in the enacting of the Title Conditions Bill in early 2002.
ABOLITION OF FEUDAL TENDER BILL
This Bill has been passed by the Scottish Parliament and is also due to be enacted in early 2002. It abolishes the ranking of "Feudal Superiors" who, since historic times, have been granted land by the Crown. They have then sold the said land to "vassals" and yet been able to retain some control over the land. Land will now be owned out right with no allegiance to Feudal Superiors or public interest represented by the Crown.
CODES OF PRACTICE
Scottish Executive is currently formulating these Codes, relating to land ownership and management. Whilst they carry no legislation, compliance will be a prerequisite for grant funding related to eg forestry and agricultural subsidies.

NEMT, April 2001


An Estate Factor's View

In Upper Deeside we have many thousands of visitors every year and apart from the odd stalk spoiled, there is no great problem. We have Scottish Rights of Way signs, HillPhone and a good path network and as a result, visitors and Estate staff rub along together fine. We know that tourism is very important to the local economy and hill walking, climbing and skiing are vital ingredients. The proposed Access Bill will make no difference to this. It will create a duty of responsibility by the visitors, but the small print in the Bill will make this almost impossible to police. We will be allowed to "close off" areas of the Estate on grounds of Health and Safety and to reduce interference. I really cannot see this being necessary at Invercauld. A couple of good points are the outlawing of fires and clarification on what legally constitutes wild camping. We get the odd canoeist on the Dee and perhaps this will become more popular, although in the summer the river is too shallow (I've tried it!). In case anyone is in any doubt, the responsibilities of dog owners are clarified and who drops litter anyway? However, this draft Access Bill will create great problems for low ground farmers, many of whom may never really recover from Foot and Mouth. Rights of Access by day and night will give poachers a field day. The rules regarding fields with livestock are not at all clear and the public are assumed to have a knowledge of crops, which is beyond most modern country folk, let alone visitors from the towns and overseas. The Local Authorities are given new roles and powers, but will there be realistic funding to achieve this?

The Community Right to Buy is unwelcome, but as Invercauld is not for sale, one might think it to be academic. But no - watch the small print. It appears that once a community has registered an interest, all development and other rights are sterilised and even existing legally agreed development options are cancelled. A NIMBY charter is surely not the purpose of this Bill? Apart from this the process is really far too complicated to help anyone! I have little experience of crofting, but it seems odd to give crofters the right to buy salmon fishing, sporting and mineral rights at any time they chose.

Simon Blackett of Invercauld Estate, April 2001


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