Scotland’s landowners have launched a charter that calls for appropriate standards of land management and a pledge to behave with respect towards tenants and the general public.

Lord David Johnstone, the chairman of Scottish Land and Estates (SLE), which represents landowners, launched the Landowners’ Charter and stated that some people still took “great delight” in the stigmatisation of private landownership.

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“Time and again we are reminded that the admirable efforts of the majority of landowners are undermined by a minority who make little or no effort to engage with their communities or the people they work with and live alongside. Numerous examples of good practice can be negated by isolated cases of bad practice within the sector,” he said.

“I suppose they mean well and are making the right noises but the problems lie with the rogue landowners who are not necessarily members of SLE and who will pay no attention to any charter.”
Angus McCall, former STFA chairman

The four main pillars of the charter announced by SLE provide a clear statement on how business, land-based activity and partnership working should be conducted and calls for landowners to be open, inclusive, enabling and responsible. There are a wide range of recommendations to help landowners and businesses achieve these objectives. They include a commitment to:

  • Work with tenants and the wider community to encourage and support enterprise and business development where this fits with estate or farm objectives
  • Treat everyone with courtesy, politeness and respect and act with integrity across land based business activities
  • Communicate estate plans to those who will be affected by them
  • Openly condemn bad and illegal practice where it exists.

The timing of the move, ahead of Scotland’s independence referendum, was greeted with cynicism by the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association (STFA).

Former STFA chairman Angus McCall said: “It’s a sad reflection on our past history that we should see such a move this week. We are businessmen just like them and it shouldn’t require a charter to tell landowners they need to treat tenants with respect.

“I suppose they mean well and are making the right noises but the problems lie with the rogue landowners who are not necessarily members of SLE and who will pay no attention to any charter.”

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