More than just a new name...

The Scottish Rural Property and Business Association is no more. A decision last week at the annual meeting proposed changing the name of the 2,500 member organisation representing three-quarters of the land in Scotland to Scottish Land and Estates (SLE).

Yesterday, at the launch of the SLE, Luke Borwick the architect of the change and the first chairman of the new organisation, emphasised that the new body represented far more than just a rebranding.

"I have just completed a round-Scotland series of members' meetings and there was a clear message from these that they want an organisation that is taking a high profile, is on the front foot, is helping to set the rural agenda and is representing a wide range of country people," he said.

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Both the membership of the SRPBA and the staff will transfer to the new organisation, but Borwick said he wanted the new body to raise the profile of rural issues, highlighting the role that estates play in the local economy of their communities.

There was also a need to take a more collaborative role in developing land use policies and delivery rather than just reacting to proposals from politicians.

That is why one specific proposal from the SLE is to set up a Centre for Land Policy.

This centre, described by Borwick as a "forward-looking think tank", would operate under an independent chairman and would involve working with partner rural organisations to devise practical and implementable land use policy ideas that will deliver real benefit for rural Scotland, he said..

Borwick said his organisation had already had positive discussions with a number of other rural businesses and lobby organisations such as the Scottish Agricultural College and NFU Scotland about collaboration in the Centre for Land Policy.