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09/06/13 11:04

First Minister commits to transformational change in land ownership

Communities able to "take their future into their own hands"

Following a two day visit to the West Highlands including an address to the Community Land Scotland conference on Skye First Minister Alex Salmond has said the Scottish Government will put into reality the age old Scottish principle that land belongs to the people.

As part of his visit to the area the First Minister announced an additional £3m investment in the Scottish Land Fund, extending it to the end of this parliament and set an ambitious target for one million acres of land in Scotland to be transferred to community ownership by 2020.

Reflecting on a visit in which he visited Marine Harvest at Lochailort, the Clan Donald centre at Sabhal Mor Ostaig, the Kilbeg village development and Sconser Scallops, who hand dive for scallops in Loch Sligachan the First Minister said that the right of communities to take their own decisions and take control of their own lands was something the Scottish Government shared.

First Minister Alex Salmond said:

“Land reform can bring real transformational change to communities across Scotland.

“It has always been one of the principles of Scotland that land belongs to the people, and with our ambitious new target of a million acres in community control by 2020, the action we are taking to simplify the system of community buy outs and the additional support we are providing to the land fund we will help drive to forward the enthusiasm shown by so many communities keen to take responsibility for local land and assets.

"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.

“Our Community Empowerment proposals already seek to bring the benefits that community ownership has brought to many parts of rural Scotland into our towns and cities.

“At the Community Land Conference and on my visit to Skye and the West Highlands I have seen once again the lasting impact that can be delivered through community activity and the contribution it can make to a stronger economy and a fairer society.

“We now have an opportunity to ensure that more local areas are able to take their future into their own hands.

“And in an independent Scotland - when we have control of the Crown Estates, MoD land - 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 our deliberately ambitious target of a million acres of land in Scotland under local control by 2020 can be achieved through a radical reshaping of the right-to-buy landscape which has the potential to transform the fortunes of communities across the country.”