Crofters on a promise…
SCOTLANDS 13,000 crofters have been promised that the launch of a new White Paper will cut red tape and give greater powers to individual crofters.
Unveiling the Crofting Reform White Paper last week at Roy Bridge, Lochaber, rural development minister Ross Finnie said the proposed reforms would update, simplify and extend crofting legislation.
"Our crofting system began as a historic response to economic and social pressures and it has preserved unique cultures and a way of life," said Mr Finnie.
"Crofting is held in place by a partnership between people and government. People make a commitment to live and work in remoter areas, to raise families and to follow a lifestyle which, if not as well-endowed with access to the facilities and opportunities which urban Scots can expect, is perhaps richer in its linkage to the land, nature and history."
The governments side of the partnership, said Mr Finnie, was to continue to develop and pay for the legal framework that guarantees security for individual crofters and the community.
Current crofting law offers historic protections for individuals, families and communities. But it is regarded as being too complicated.
According to NFU Scotland vice-president John Kinnaird: "The legislation is at present a very specialised and complicated subject area. Simplification is essential to improve crofters understanding of the regulatory framework under which they must operate."
Mr Finnie said that, as well as stripping away bureaucracy, the proposed new legislation would also ensure easier subletting for tenants and new 10-year leases which allow owner-occupiers to make proper arrangements for temporary use of their land by other crofters and farmers.
"Essentially, we recognise that crofting has the potential to rebuild population," said Mr Finnie. "We want to make it possible to create new crofts so that the tide need no longer run only in one direction – away from crofting."
A key to that will be modernising the Crofters Commission, giving it the power and responsibility for delivering support to crofting. *