Contract freedoms key to land avaliability say SLE

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SCOTLAND’S landowners have suggested that the best way of getting more land for letting would be to allow greater freedom of contact between landlord and tenant.

Commenting on the submission which the Scottish Land and Estates (SLE) sent to the Land Reform Review Group (LRRG), SLE chairman Luke Borwick said that freedom of contract for new lettings had considerable potential to deliver more land to the market, providing increased opportunities for new entrants.

“It is dynamic and will make a difference,” he said. “This can breathe new life into the sector in addition to existing tenancy arrangements and we want to work together across the industry to explore opportunities that could be in everyone’s interests.

“Greater availability of land to let not only opens doors for new entrants but increases the profitability of existing tenancies and these are two big issues.”

The SLE also says it believes the existing Tenant Farming Forum and the New Entrants Advisory Panel are the best vehicles to develop proposals that could carry cross-industry support and could make an enduring difference to Scottish farming.

But progress in land reform depended, according to the SLE, on the industry moving forward from “the narrow debates that have afflicted it for too long”.

One of those debates is over allowing tenants the absolute right to buy their farms.

“We have strongly urged the LRRG to draw a line under this issue by dismissing it from any agenda,” it said.

“If they do so, we believe they will reflect the predominant will of the industry and will re-ignite confidence in the sector. The absolute right to buy offers no future for the tenanted sector.”

The SLE point out that NFU Scotland is giving this option no support and even the Scottish Tenant Farming Association’s submission recognised there was no overall support for it within their membership.

The LRRG is due to report its findings to the Scottish Government in 2014.