29 November 2001
Land reform – what the papers say

By Adrienne Francis

THE publication of the Scottish land reform bill, on Wednesday (29th November) has provoked comment throughout the national papers.

Landowners say they are facing a “nightmare scenario” of private property being expropriated, reports the Daily Telegraph.

The bill might also lead to the loss of millions of pounds of private investment, the paper adds.

Several large investments planned by owners in Caithness and Sutherland have been abandoned because of the uncertainty, it says.

The Independent features a large photo of the MacLennan family, residents of the town of Laird, which is owned by a quarrying company.

Radical legislation, allowing crofters to compel landlords to sell them their land, has moved one step closer to becoming law, the paper says.

A comment piece in the Independent says there is talk of the crofters of the Western Isles lighting a beacon for others to follow.

“Already the sound of keening lairds haunts the Highlands,” it writes.

“The right to buy fishing rivers looks particularly fruitful, and good for at least three episodes of Monarch of the Glen.”

The bill will enable crofters the right to buy the land they live and work on at any time, at independently assessed market prices.

Rural communities of 20 or more people will be allowed first refusal on land when it goes to the market.