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07/06/13 14:47

A million acres in community ownership by 2020

First Minister sets target as proposals made to improve right-to-buy system.

One million acres of land in Scotland will be placed under local control by 2020 under a new target to help the empowerment and renewal of communities across the country unveiled by First Minister Alex Salmond today.

The shift in ownership, which will see community land in Scotland double from its current level, will be achieved by streamlining and improving the current community right-to-buy scheme, with proposals for a new Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill to be brought forward later this year.

The First Minister made the announcement in a speech to the Community Land Scotland Conference at Sabhal Mor Ostaig on Skye as part of his broader commitment to “radical and ambitious” land reform in the wake of the publication of the interim findings of the Scottish Government’s Land Reform Review group.

He said the new one million acre target combined with the working group findings and the proposed legislation would present the “opportunity to shape a stronger and better relationship between our land and our people” with more local areas able to “take their future into their own hands” and inspire the regeneration of communities.

The First Minister said:

"We cannot underestimate the crucial part land reform will play in contributing to the future success of Scotland for the next generation. Land ownership is currently overly concentrated. If the people who live and work in Scotland are best-placed to make decisions about the country’s future, then it follows that local communities are-best placed to make decisions about their futures.

“In an independent Scotland - when we have control of the Crown Estates, MoD land and many urban spaces - we will be even more effective in getting greater tracts of Scotland’s land rightfully into community ownership.

“We are committed like no other administration to land reform and, as powerful symbol of that commitment, I am delighted to announce today that we will set a target of a million acres of land in Scotland to be under local control by 2020. This is a deliberately ambitious target that can be achieved through a radical reshaping of the right-to-buy landscape that has the potential to transform the fortunes of communities across the country.”

The First Minister added that much of this work is already well underway, with the Scottish Government’s Land Reform Review Group investigating how this crucial issue can be improved upon for the benefit of the people of Scotland. He went on to confirm today that the Scottish Government will consult later this year on a draft Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill.

He said:

"This draft bill will include provisions for an improved community right to buy. The Land Reform Review Group’s work will have a vital role to play as we draft, consult on, and then prepare to introduce legislation.

“Overall, therefore, the land reform process has the opportunity to lead to radical legislation which will achieve a lasting impact. The outcome of the process must be a stronger economy and a fairer society.

“Over the next year, we have the opportunity to shape a stronger and better relationship between our land and people. Community Land Scotland will be an important voice in that land reform process, together with many other individuals and organisations.

“We now have an opportunity to ensure that more local areas are able to take their future into their own hands. If we do this, we will achieve our own shared aspirations; new jobs and new amenities in areas long denied them; and the regeneration and repopulation of communities across Scotland.”

It has also been confirmed today that an additional £3 million is being made available to the Scottish Land Fund for 2015-16 to enable more communities to consider buy-outs. This will ensure funding is in place for communities about to embark on the community buy-out process.

Notes to editors

Further information on the Scottish Government’s Land Reform Review Group is here - http://www.scotland.gov.uk/About/Review/land-reform/ReviewGroup

Details on the interim findings of the group, published last month, are here - http://www.scotland.gov.uk/About/Review/land-reform/LRRGNewsRelease

Contact:

Aileen Easton - 07825 905 991