Public are urged to show support for tenant farmers

Andy Wightman MSP is to put a motion before Holyrood. Picture: Jon Savage
Andy Wightman MSP is to put a motion before Holyrood. Picture: Jon Savage
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A show of public support for tenant farmers caught up in the fall-out of the extremely complex Salvesen Riddell legal case – and who now face eviction – is set to take place outside the Scottish Parliament tomorrow.

Christopher Nicholson, chairman of the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association (STFA), said a number of farmers faced losing their homes, land and businesses and called for support from the farming sector and the wider public.

Tenant farmers and their families now face losing their livelihoods

Andy Wightman

He said at the heart of the problem lay a Supreme Court ruling which found that actions taken by the Scottish Government to protect tenant farmers on “limited partnership” tenancies from a spate of notices to terminate as the 2003 Agricultural Holdings Act was being introduced breached landlords’ human rights.

He said the last few years had been a misery for the tenants involved, as reassurances from ministers had failed to materialise.

READ MORE: ‘New era’ in landlord and tenant relations coming

Andy Wightman, Lothian MSP and Scottish Green spokesman on land reform, will put a motion to Holyrood claiming that mediation offered by the Scottish Government in 2014 has not yet materialised.

He said: “Tenant farmers and their families who, through no fault of their own are now facing eviction, have invested significantly in their businesses and now face losing their livelihoods.

“I urge the Scottish Government to intervene by bringing forward emergency legislation that will halt any evictions pending a satisfactory mediated settlement.”

• New guidelines aimed at discouraging landowners from using limited company status as a device to avoid triggering a pre-emptive right to buy (PRTB) during sales of tenanted land were launched yesterday.

The industry-backed guidance is based on existing legislation and creates a framework for discussions between the landlord and tenant in advance of any sale with the aim of ensuring good relations are maintained

Backed by the NFU Scotland, Scottish Land & Estates (SLE) and the STFA, the move follows the issuing of other joint guidance on a plethora of farming tenant/landlord issues, including limited partnerships, rent reviews and tenants’ improvements.

Although technically the guidance applies only to secure 1991 Act tenancies where an interest has been registered, the industry bodies stated that it is generally good practice for landlords to notify tenants in every situation where a tenanted holding is to be sold.

It recommends that where the controlling interest in a landowning limited company is to be transferred, the sellers should consult fully with the tenants concerning a number of key issues in advance of the sale.

NFUS president Allan Bowie said that it was important that the intention behind the PRTB was honoured by all parties and there was no excuse for the deliberate use of a holding company by landlords to evade this.

STFA chairman Chris Nicholson added that the underlying principle of ensuring effective consultation in advance of any sale made sense to anyone concerned with maintaining good relationships.

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