A majority of Scots back plans which could force the country’s big estate owners to sell off parts of their land, a Government consultation has found.
Almost three quarters (72%) back the controversial measure in the Land Reform bill - but almost all (93%) of landowners oppose it. The move would be triggered when ownership patterns are seen to be acting as a “barrier” to sustainable development.
Scots also want to see more transparency and diversification of ownership of land in Scotland, the consultation found.
Nicola Sturgeon unveiled fresh plans for land reform last year, describing it as “unfinished business” following measures introduced by the first Scottish Parliament including `right to roam’ provisions.
Land reform minister Aileen McLeod said today most of the Government have won 70% support from the public who took part in the consultation.
She said: “Our vision for land reform is for a stronger relationship between the people of Scotland and the land of Scotland, where ownership and use of the land delivers greater public benefits.
“Through the Land Reform Bill, one of our key aims is to remove barriers to communities’
sustainable development by ensuring greater collaboration between communities and land owners.
“The consultation on land reform received a huge number of responses showing the high level of public interest and support for improving how Scotland’s land works for the people of Scotland.”
There is also widespread support for plans which would restrict the kind of bodies which are allowed to own land in Scotland. Much of Scotland is currently owned by anonymous offshore trusts and this can lead to “practical difficulties” in tracing the people responsible to enforce fiscal or legal obligations. Future plans to limit ownership to individuals, or entities formed in accordance with EU law, won the backing of 82% of respondents to the consultation.
Major estates have previously hit out at plans to remove the exemption from business rates for shooting and deerstalking claiming it could cost them millions of pounds, but this won the backing of 71% of respondents.
In addition, 75% agreed with proposals to set up a Land Reform Commission, while 87% backed the proposal to introduce a land rights and responsibilities policy and 88% want to see improved information on land.