08 December 1998
Call for controls on Scots land sales

THE Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) agency has urged the Government to introduce tighter control over the sale of Scottish estates.

It wants local people to get a chance to bid for estates by any transactions facing a delay of up to three months.

The agencys recommendation comes in a submission to a Scottish Office consultation paper on land reform.

Some 60% of rural Scotland is in the hands of about 1400 owners, a position which has attracted widespread criticism.

Local people are concerned that they are being excluded from land deals done by landlords without their knowledge.

Local communities have succeeded in buying estates in a handful of cases.

The HIE set up a unit last year to assist community land purchases.

HIE representatives are consulting on 30 projects, of which 14 have been offered financial assistance.

The Scottish Landowners Federation opposes the changes which it argues would be time-wasting.

It also criticises the use of public funds for community ownership.