Farming: Call to refocus the debate on land access

With the recent spells of lockdown highlighting the important role played by farmers and landowners in supplying the public with the freedom to explore the great outdoors, the time could be right to refocus the debate on access taking.

Sarah-Jane Laing said that there had been too much focus on the responsibilities of landowners
Sarah-Jane Laing said that there had been too much focus on the responsibilities of landowners

Speaking at an online discussion on land reform topics yesterday, Scottish Land and Estates chief executive Sarah-Jane Laing said that there had been too much focus on the responsibilities of landowners and the rights of access takers.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“And we need to redress that balance and focus more on the fact that the right is to ‘responsible’ access,” said Laing who argued that it was becoming apparent that the wording of much of the access guidance was “too polite” for some sections of the public to take to heart.

In a wide-ranging discussion covering many aspects of land reform, Laing said the debate was often represented in the media as highly polarised – but she argued that a more nuanced approach would be much more effective at addressing some of the real underlying issues: “And we should remember that land reform is about everyone involved in the sector and the ownership of land – and that includes the Scottish Government, the Ministry of Defence and local authorities as well as traditional estates.”

On moves on the agricultural holdings legislation Laing said that the appointment of Bob McIntosh to the role of Tenant Farming Commissioner with the Scottish Land Commission had been one of the best moves which had allowed fruitful discussions to open up where parties had previously been at loggerheads.

 0 comments

Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.