Scottish Government opens consultation on Crofting Reform

Scottish Government opens consultation on Crofting Reform

Crofting has a high historical and cultural importance to the Highland and Islands communities. Unique to Scotland, the land tenure promotes sustainable land use by local individuals where the land has often been crofted by their families for generations.

According to the Crofting Commission there are approximately 21,500 Crofts recorded. To be a Crofter, the owner or the tenant of the Croft, must ordinarily be resident on, or within 32km of, their croft, they have a duty to cultivate and maintain their croft or put it to another purposeful use and they have a duty not to misuse of neglect their croft.

The main pieces of legislation relating to crofting are the Crofters (Scotland) Act 1993, as amended by the Crofting Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, the Crofting Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 and the Crofting (Amendment) (Scotland) Act 2013. Now, the Scottish Government has opened up a consultation on proposals for changes and simplifications to crofting law. They are seeking views on proposals on:

Entry to crofting

Crofting communities

Use of Common Grazings

Strengthening residency and land use

Enhance Crofting Commission powers

Simplifying crofting

The government wish to build on previous reforms to help more people to become crofters and improve support for existing crofters, enable more and different activities to take place on common grazings such as projects that are in line with environmental initiatives, streamline the process for breaches of crofters duties and to resolve crofting regulatory issues more quickly.

At present, only one crofter can be registered to a croft and any assignation of a crofting tenancy can only be to one person. One of the proposals considers being able to create a joint crofting tenancy which would allow two people to be registered to a single croft. This is to be inline with other forms of tenancies available in the country such as the residential PRT agreements.

Senior Surveyor at Bell Ingram, Hamish Hope comments: “The thought behind this is to allow crofters to use more resources from each party and in situations where an older crofter wishes to pass their tenancy to another family member but still wishes to remain as a tenant. The risk here is that a crofting tenancy is a heritable tenancy and if there were joint tenants, there could be a conflict on the future of the croft which would add complications to an already complicated land tenure. The consultation paper discusses this further.”

Another proposal is in relation to Common Grazings, which are areas of land where multiple crofters have a right to graze the land known as a share. Common Grazings account for approximately 550,000 hectares of land in the country.

Hamish continues: “Common Grazings are being used less and less with livestock numbers on crofts declining. The government proposes to remove barriers that will allow crofters to use common grazing land for other purposes such as woodland creation, biodiversity enhancement and peatland restoration. This could bring more income to the related crofting community and built stronger relationships. To do this, the roles of Grazing Committees need to be more simple and clear and Crofters need to be encouraged to actively use their shares.”

To read the full Crofting Consultation Report which covers all aspects of the proposals, please click here. For all information regarding Crofting, please visit the Crofting Commission here.

If you wish to discuss crofting with one of our land agents, please contact Bell Ingram here.

Our people

Hamish Hope

Hamish Hope

Senior Surveyor, MRICS
Land Management
Tel: 01463 717 799

About: Hamish is an experienced RICS Chartered Surveyor and Registered Valuer, working across the Highlands with a focus on rural estate management from traditional sporting estates to diversifications. He is a graduate of Edinburgh Napier University with MSc Real Estate Management and Investment. Interests: Estate Management, Sales & Lettings, Valuations, Domestic Energy Assessments.

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