SNP minister refuses to rule out agreement on 'incompatible' Green land reform policies

Talks between the Scottish Government and the Scottish Greens could lead to major changes in land reform despite warnings that proposals are “incompatible” with human rights legislation.

Cabinet secretary for rural affairs and islands, Mairi Gougeon did not rule out an agreement between the Greens and the SNP on key land reform issues and criticised “scare stories” from the opposition.

Answering a question from the Scottish Conservative’s spokesperson on net zero, energy and transport Liam Kerr, Ms Gougeon said the Scottish Government was “committed to delivering what was in our manifesto” and would not be drawn on discussions with the Greens.

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Mairi Gougeon, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, refused to be drawn on talks between the Scottish Government and the Scottish Greens.

In Holyrood during portfolio questions on Wednesday, Mr Kerr raised the concerns.

He said: “I hear what she says, but many commentators have suggested the Green’s land proposals are very poorly thought through.

"For example, rural stakeholders have suggested that plans to introduce land ownership public interest tests and make Scotland’s Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement statutory are incompatible with human rights legislation.

"Adopting Green plans would put thousands of rural jobs at risk, including those in the minister’s Angus constituency and lead to a lack of investment in some of our most remote and fragile environments.

"Will the Cabinet secretary rule out adopting these land reforms proposals before entering any deal?”

Responding, Ms Gougeon said: “Talks between the Scottish Government and the Scottish Green party will cover a number of issues and further updates on those talks will be made in due course.

"The way in which land is owned, managed and used is centrally important to a variety of outcomes. Everyone has a stake in Scotland’s land and everyone should benefit from Scotland’s land.

"It is really disappointing to hear the member reiterate these scare stories that go around.

"One thing that this government is committed to is, as I said the talks are ongoing, but right now we are committed to delivering what was in our manifesto, our bold ambitions to introduce another Land Reform Bill and doubling the amount that we have available in the Scottish Land Fund.

"That is our focus and that is what we will deliver.”

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