Farming: Union uses land reform review to urge caution

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THE Land Reform Review Group (LRRG) set up by the Scottish Government to look at land management issues has been urged by NFU Scotland to make agriculture and food production central to its conclusions.

In its submission to the LRRG, the union admits that rural Scotland is a diverse and challenging environment, where a tapestry of land uses and land tenures aims to deliver the best value from a most important asset.

However, it adds that any 
review that wants to develop “innovative and radical proposals that would contribute to Scotland’s future success” must also avoid any unintended consequences that would damage agriculture and ability to produce food.

“We recognise the multiple benefits and outcomes that our land must deliver. However, the increasing importance of food production must be a significant priority and be reflected in any future policy or vision,” it said.

The union also throws its weight behind the current land management systems operating in Scotland providing, as it does, a mix of tenanted land and owner-occupied properties.

“Scotland requires access to flexible and fluid arrangements for landlords, tenants, and owner occupiers. It is imperative for the future … that it is allowed to continue to work towards achieving a sector that contributes in a positive way to the economy of rural Scotland.”

Meanwhile, the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association (STFA) welcomed confirmation from the cabinet secretary Richard
Lochhead that the Lord Advocate will press ahead with its appeal to the UK Supreme Court against the Court of Session’s decision in Salvesen versus Riddell.

In this case, Lord Gill ruled that a law put in place to protect tenant farmers was not compliant with the European Convention of Human Rights.

No date has been set for the hearing, but the SFTA understands it should take place in the early part of the summer, with a decision before the end of 2013.