Community Ownership of Ministers’ Crofting Estate Programme
Taking control of crofting land.
Taking control of crofting land.
As one of Scotland’s largest landowners, with 58 crofting estates comprising of 235,000 acres, the Government is supportive of local communities taking ownership of these lands.
Scottish Government doesn't have plans to dispose of their estates but strongly believes that local decision-making and self-determination is key to delivering sustainable and resilient communities.
Whilst Scottish Government remains a willing landlord, if a crofting community expresses a desire to take control of its own future it will support those ambitions and be an agreeable seller.
Whilst Scottish Government will first and foremost remain a willing landlord, if a crofting community expresses a desire to take control of its own future it will support those ambitions and be an agreeable seller.
Scottish Government is willing to consider the sale of all croft land on its crofting estates. It is for the community to determine the extent of the land it wishes to acquire; this could be one or more townships or a whole estate.
The eligible land includes tenanted crofts, common grazing and any land in which a tenant of a croft has a right to crop or graze. It also includes salmon fishings in inland waters, sporting rights (shootings and other fishings) and mineral rights held in their ownership.
It does not extend to owner-occupied crofts, crofts and croft house sites which have been decrofted.
A community buyout of a Scottish Government crofting estate does not affect crofters’ existing rights. The community will be acquiring the ‘landlord’s interest’ in croft land tenanted by crofters. The crofters’ security of tenure, individual crofters’ right to buy, and all the benefits and protections and responsibilities conferred upon crofters by crofting legislation will continue under community ownership.
Route to ownership As Scottish Government is a willing seller, there is no need for communities to use the crofting community right to buy provisions of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. Instead, Scottish Government will work with the community to agree a simpler process.
Ballot To ensure community support we would recommend an independent and secret ballot be undertaken.
Recognising their specific interest, we would further recommend crofting tenants be given a veto in the ballot.
This means that a buyout would not proceed unless the majority of the crofting community (crofting tenants and residents) are in favour and also that the majority of crofting tenants are also in favour. There would be one vote per eligible individual, one ballot, and two counts (all votes together, then a count of the crofter votes only). Two majorities in favour will demonstrate community support.
A range of support is available and a package will be agreed to best suit your needs and circumstances. The support will help your community consider the merits or otherwise of a buyout; there is no obligation to take a project forward – the community can walk away at any time.
Stage 1 Is there community support to consider a buyout?
We can help you arrange a public meeting to see if the community is interested in finding out more. At the meeting we can share the experiences of other crofting estate buyouts, outline the process, and answer any questions.
Stage 2 Initial investigation
If there is sufficient community interest, we can help you investigate what a community buyout might mean to your community. The support on offer will include:
• dedicated HIE officer support – an experienced case officer will be assigned to guide you through the process;
• an introduction to Community Land Scotland who can provide – practical help, advice and guidance from those who have been through the process;
• start up costs – to hold community meetings, set up a steering group, undertake a valuation etc;
• visit to a community-owned crofting estates – learn from the experiences of other communities who own and manage crofting estates.
Stage 3 Detailed project planning
If there is community support to move on to the next stage – detailed project planning – we can help you with the following:
• feasibility and business planning – to ascertain the viability of a buyout proposal;
• purchase price support – help to secure grant assistance and private investment as required to meet the purchase price;
• provision and funding of mapping – should the purchase take place Scottish Government will help with the mapping exercise that is required by Registers of Scotland when title to land changes hands;
• ballot support – assistance to fund an independent and secret ballot of the community to confirm support for the proposed purchase.
Phone us on 01520 722988 or email.
Communities that take control of their lands release further development potential and opportunities. West Harris is a good example.