Yesterday the Scottish Government moved forward with its latest land reform proposals by launching a consultation for a new Land Reform Bill, which it has committed to bring in during this parliamentary session.
This is a result of the Bute House Agreement in August 2021 when the Scottish Greens and the SNP reached an agreement on a shared draft policy programme which detailed the key areas of policy on which the two parties agreed to cooperate, and that included grouse moor reform.
[Ecologically poor grouse moors dominate the landscape in the eastern Cairngorms National Park. Photo by Ruth Tingay]
The public consultation is seeking views on what measures should be included in the Bill. The Government says:
‘The Bill will be ambitious. It will address long-standing concerns about the highly concentrated pattern of land ownership in rural areas of Scotland. At the same time, we want to ensure that our land is owned, managed, and used in ways that rise to the challenges of today: net zero, nature restoration, and a just transition’.
Community empowerment and ‘nature restoration’ (which doesn’t appear to have been defined yet but surely doesn’t include the continuation of ecologically depauperate, intensively-managed driven grouse moors) both feature heavily and, subject to the consultation responses, landowners could face financial penalties for breaches of the new rules in the form of fines and/or subsidy withdrawal.
Sev Carrell has written a good overview piece in the Guardian about the proposals in the consultation – see here.
The consultation opened on 4th July 2022 and closes on 25th September 2022.