Scottish Government rejects measure aimed at strengthening land reform

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 8 January 2016 in News

Scottish Government rejects calls to ban companies registered outside the EU from buying land in Scotland

The Scottish Government has rejected calls to ban companies registered outside the EU from buying land in Scotland.

The proposal, recommended by the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment (RACCE) Committee in its response to the Land Reform Bill, was supported by 79 per cent of public responses in a recent consultation.

The RACCE Committee recommended that only companies registered in the EU should be able to buy land in Scotland, in an attempt to increase transparency of land ownership.


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However, ministers said the committee’s recommendation “would be outwith the competence of the Scottish Parliament”.

The Government response, in its latest report on land reform, also states the move “would be a restriction on the free movement of capital”.

The Government said that such a restriction will only be compatible with EU law if it pursues a public interest objective and does so in way that complies with the principle of proportionality. Ministers argue this would not be the case.

The response says: “After reviewing this proposal, the Scottish Government came to view that it would not provide the greater transparency of land ownership that those who supported this proposal suggest”.

In its December report on the Land Reform Bill, the RACCE Committee warned the legislation in its current form is “unlikely to deliver the improved transparency about those who not only own land, but control or benefit from land, that the Scottish Government is seeking, and that the committee and many people in Scotland want, and have a right, to see.

“The provisions in the bill must be enhanced and strengthened if it is to achieve its aims and the committee sets out several options for doing so in its report”.

The Government’s land reform measures were rejected at the SNP conference last year, with members voting by 570 to 440 for the party to take tougher action on land reform.

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