Tenants suggest agency for abandoned land

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A SUGGESTION that an agency be set up to deal with areas where land has been abandoned has been put forward by the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association (STFA).

In its submission to the Scottish Government’s Land Reform Review Group, the STFA has asked it to “consider the creation of a land agency with powers to intervene where there is evidence of land abandonment, mismanagement or inappropriate use of land”.

The tenant farmers also suggested a strategy to encourage a greater diversity of ownership of land, as well as providing a structure for land-based businesses.

However, the STFA has shied from one of the most contentious areas of land ownership – farm tenants’ absolute right to buy their properties at any time.

The submission admits there are divisions over any extension of right-to-buy legislation from its present position where tenants can register an interest in their properties giving them the first right to buy if and when a landlord decides to sell.

STFA chairman Angus McCall noted: “The root causes of dissatisfaction frequently relate to estate management, the conduct of estate agents, a lack of investment and an unwillingness to allow the tenant to diversify.”

Scotland Land and Estates, whose 2,500 members own three quarters of Scotland’s land, lodged a 266-page submission.

Chairman Luke Borwick said: “There will be a direct benefit to the rural economy if landowners and estates are recognised as valued partners, as well as being instrumental in the delivery of key national and local government initiatives.”