8 June 2001

Compromise over new tenancy agreements

By Shelley Wright

Scotland correspondent

AFTER months of wrangling, Scotlands farmers and landowners have finally agreed the basis for new tenancy agreements.

Early last year, when the Scottish Executive unveiled its land reform plans, rural development minister Ross Finnie told NFU Scotland and the Scottish Landowners Federation that it was up to them to stop arguing and reach agreement on new tenancy rules.

The union originally wanted new tenancy agreements to be for a minimum of 15 years, while the landowners starting point was a maximum of five years.

This week the two organisations published their agreed proposal, which they will submit to Mr Finnie.

Under the agreement, two distinct types of limited duration tenancies are proposed: short-term lettings of up to five years, and longer, whole-farm lets with a minimum term of 15 years.

John Kinnaird, vice-president of NFU Scotland, said: "The significance of this agreement should not be underestimated. This issue has polarised opinions for far too long. "Under the new agreement, existing tenancies will be protected and new forms of tenancy agreement will provide more flexibility and security as well."

SLF convener Robert Balfour said the new tenancies offered a structured system that provided legal certainty for both landowners and tenants.

"It was important that an agreement was reached to provide not only fresh opportunities for the industry, but assurances for the parties to a lease," he said.

Mr Finnie is currently drafting the new agricultural holdings legislation, which is expected to be published for consultation late in the autumn. &#42