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Scottish Land Reform Bill is ‘outdated and irrational’

There are concerns that the Land Reform (Scotland) Bill could lead to estates being broken up into smaller lots.

The Scottish government has introduced legislation to encourage community ownership by granting ministers powers to intervene in the sales of estates of more than 1,000 hectares. The SNP said the Land Reform (Scotland) Bill — the largest set of land reforms in years — aimed to “revolutionise land ownership in Scotland”. 

If passed, the Bill would provide locals with forewarning of sales and could lead to holdings being carved into smaller lots to tackle overconcentration of land ownership. 

Rural affairs secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “We do not think it is right that ownership… of much of Scotland’s land is in the hands of relatively few people.” 

Scottish Land & Estates (SLE) described the bill as a “as a cocktail of bureaucratic and interventionist measures that will once again land the Scottish taxpayers with a multi-million-pound bill.” 

Sarah-Jane Laing, chief executive of SLE, said: “The Scottish government is using outdated ideology to punish those rural businesses making a huge contribution to Scotland. It is taking an irrational approach to farms and estates over 1,000 hectares, which seems to be driven purely by a desire to break these up regardless of the outcome.”