Rural Law

The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill has completed Stage 2 of the parliamentary process and Stage 3 amendments can now be lodged.

Scotch Thistle

The impact of this piece of legislation is potentially far reaching given the topics which it deals with, ranging from allotments to community planning. However, it is the provisions relating to the community right to buy under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 which are of particular significance to private landowners.

The Bill is seeking to amend the existing community right to buy which allows community bodies to register an interest in rural land. This right means that the community body has the first right of refusal if the landowner decides to sell the land.

In addition to amending the processes involved in registering and exercising a right to buy, the Bill will remove the existing restriction to rural land. This means that the community right to buy will apply across Scotland to both urban and rural land.

A number of amendments were introduced at Stage 2 of the parliamentary process which relate to the process of the crofting community right to buy.

Controversially, the Bill also introduces a new right for community bodies to purchase “abandoned and neglected” land from a landowner.   This right would apply even where the landowner does not want to sell the land.

The absence of a clear definition of “abandoned and neglected” land has led to criticism of the Bill. We will be watching the Bill’s progress at Stage 3 with interest to see how the difficulties surrounding the definition are resolved.

Kate McLeish