The Scottish Government’s Land Reform Review group met yesterday in Birnam. The group is chaired by Dr Alison Elliot and the two vice chairs are Professor James Hunter and Dr Sarah Skerratt. At the meeting, the group issued a call for evidence as well as announcing the members of its Advisory Group. The news was emailed to 1000 stakeholders yesterday by the Scottish Government but I only received a copy of the information today from the group’s vice-chair, Dr Skerratt. Many others with an interest in land reform are also not, it seems, on the Scottish Government’s list of 1000 stakeholders.
The advisors are
Professor David Adams, Chair of Property & Urban Studies, University of Glasgow.
Andrew Bruce-Wooton, Manager of the 126,000 acre Atholl Estate
Amanda Bryan, Rural Development Consultant and Forestry Commissioner
Ian Cooke, Director of the Development Trusts Association Scotland
Simon A Fraser, Solicitor and former Chair of Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust
Priscilla Gordon-Duff, co-owner of Drummuir Estate
Dr David Miller, James Hutton Institute and co-ordinator of Scottish Government’s Strategic Research Programme on land use
Bob Reid, planner, access specialist, former President of Mountaineering Council of Scotland and currently Convenor of Royal Town Planning Institute Scotland
Agnes Rennie, crofter and Chair of Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn
Dr Madhu Satsangi, Senior Lecturer in Housing and Applied Social Science, University of Stirling
John Watt, former Director Strengthening Communities, Highlands and Islands Enterprise
Donald MacRae, Chief Economist, Lloyds Banking Group (added after initial announcement)
Further details on advisors is available here.
The group has website – www.landreformreview.org
UPDATED 11 October 2012 with additional adviser (Donald MacRae) and live links to website
Well, this actually represents a huge step forwards, as it has tight deadlines, and closing dates, delivers in not much more than a year and bit, and could lead to legislation. There are some concerns about the lack of actual NGO bodies, like “Friends of the Earth” and others, having a more formal role, and I think this has to be addressed. They can, of course, give evidence, but will be excluded from the Commissions actual internal debates, it seems. This does represent a huge opportunity to get things moving forwards, but I am always suspicious, and cautious, when I see anything large and official happening. But we must live in hope. My main thought is, that an independent conference of groups needs to be held, where some sort of common position, on things like basic ideas, such as land value taxes, environmental levies, and other related issues can be discussed, and then interacted with the Commission, in public. An effective external pressure should always be there.
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As your post on 11 January 2013 “Land Reform Review Group” (http://www.andywightman.com/?p=2022) is not open to comments due to being “solely for information”, I’ll post here the comment I would have made had I been allowed to do so:-
Credit where credit’s due for getting your submission to the LRRG in (which I failed to do) but it was so limited and timid, it could almost have been written by Scottish Land & Estates!
Considering the breadth of the LRRG’s remit, it offered a big stage onto which I was expecting Andy Wightman to roll out his big plan. By titling it “Scotland needs Radical Land Reform”, you started promisingly but all we got was minutiae like making the Land Register freely available in public libraries, creating more quangos and re-shuffling the powers of existing ones (are your proposed Local Natural Resource Agencies as well as or instead of the Forestry Commission and your proposed regional Forest Boards?), licensing blood sports, transferring administration of the Land Reform Act to local authorities, the promotion of huts and the abolition of Acts of Parliament which have been dormant for over 100 years anyway.
How is any of that sort of thing going to achieve your ambition of “a young couple needing a parcel of land for a home being able to approach their local council to secure this most basic of needs at minimal cost”?
I see you’re quoted in the Herald today commenting on the sale of Gaick Estate as saying “Scotland has no coherent policy on land ownership, occupation and governance. I’d like to see an end to the unregulated market in this country, where anyone from anywhere can buy land.”
This prompts me to two questions: (1) What is your “coherent policy” on land ownership, occupation and governance?; and (2) why didn’t you mention ending the unregulated market in your submission to the LRRG?
I am sorry I don’t have time to respond to these questions right now.
Perhaps at some point you could find a moment.
Question (1) is the more important one – perhaps a future blog entry imagining you were the Minister for Land Affairs in a future Scottish Government setting out your coherent policy in a few hundred words. (Not just “visions” or “aspirations” either, but an actual policy for achieving them.)
Will add it to the list…