05 January 1999
Scots tenants to have right to buy

By FWi staff

SCOTTISH Secretary Donald Dewar has unveiled plans to give local communities a right to buy land from landlords who sell estates in Scotland.

The package, which is being heralded as the most radical reform of Scottish land laws for 900 years, will also enable tenants to take over mismanaged land.

The compulsory purchase of estates is likely to be rare but the proposed laws mean landowners will have to give local residents first refusal on land they wish to sell.

As many as 20 Highland communities are already poised to buy or secure a bigger stake in the estates on which their livelihoods depend.

Todays news follows a recommendation from the Highlands and Islands Enterprise agency which urged the government to tighten up on the sale of Scottish estates.

The agency submitted a consultation on land reform to the Scottish Office late last year, voicing local concern that residents were being excluded from land deals.

Some 60% of rural Scotland is owned by just 1400 landlords, a position that has attracted widespread criticism and encouraged the Government to force a change.