Call for decisive action on right to buy

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The dispute over tenant farmers being given an absolute right to buy their properties should not be allowed to become a “political football” according to the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association.

Yesterday it called on the Scottish Government to clarify its intentions by undertaking a study of Scotland’s land ownership and tenure structure as a matter of urgency.

STFA chairman Christopher Nicholson said that for the last decade the absolute right to buy had been the elephant in the room with the mere mention of it driving landlords to man the barricades. But, he added it was now time to take a good look at the underlying reasons behind it and an examination of the detail and implications of implementing such a policy.

“There is a general mood to create a more diverse land ownership structure in Scotland and extending the tenants right to buy may or may not be part of the equation,” he said. “However, an informed debate can only take place if we know what we are talking about.”

Nicholson said it was imperative that the government commissioned a survey of land ownership and land tenure throughout Scotland as soon as possible.

He also revealed the STFA had written to the Land Reform Review Group requesting they reverse their current decision to exclude consideration of tenancy matters.

The government have promised a review of land tenure issues in Scotland but the STFA wants that review to take place in a wider context of land ownership.

“We cannot discuss the merits and demerits of an absolute right to buy in a vacuum and a review must take account of the different challenges faced by tenants and rural communities in different parts of the country and identify appropriate solutions,” said Nicholson.