Rural Law

Brodies were proud to co-sponsor the 2018 Scottish Land & Estates Land Managers’ Training Day, held at Perth Racecourse on 24th October. This popular annual event was fully subscribed and attended by delegates who are involved in all aspects of rural land management, including landowners, rural land agents and representatives from stakeholder bodies.

Three lawyers from our Land and Rural Business Team were in attendance throughout the day. Kate McLeish presented to the room on agricultural holdings reform, while Graeme Leith ran afternoon workshops on the topic of forestry on tenanted farms. Clive Philips joined the expert panel for a Q & A Session at the end of the day’s proceedings. The Training Day provided delegates with an update on a variety of issues impacting on rural business and landholdings, and key messages that were taken away from the day included the following:

  • The majority of the provisions of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016 have now been implemented although regulations are awaited for the introduction of the right to buy land to further sustainable development.
  • Separate from implementation of the 2016 Act, the concept of land reform has shaped the political agenda in Scotland and is visible in new legislation affecting planning, housing and taxation.
  • The Scottish Land Commission are considering and consulting on a wide range of issues affecting the rural sector, including possible controls on concentrated land ownership. The consultation on this issue identified related grievances in some parts of the country, but broad recognition of the wider community benefits that concentrated land ownership can bring.
  • Within the field of agricultural holdings there is a current focus on rent review, and the Scottish Government have indicated that the new rent review methodology will come into effect in 2019. The concept is “fair rent”, and regard must be had to the productive capacity of the let land as well as open market rent for non-agricultural land and additional housing with the let farm beyond that required by the tenant or its employees.
  • The requirement for all let housing to meet a particular energy efficiency rating is causing concern amongst rural estate owners with traditional housing stock and long-term tenants. Draft regulations are expected early next year and SL&E continue to lobby the relevant government officials and politicians on the financial burden and practical challenges that rural landowners will face in complying.
  • The presentation on planning reform from Debbie Mackay of Savills was particularly timely as the new Scottish planning bill was undergoing its Stage 2 committee debate on the same day. What started out as legislation that dealt largely with technical or procedural matters has become more far-reaching in its effect as some more contentious amendments have been proposed. We are following developments closely and will update our clients and contacts as appropriate.

Please contact Clive, Kate or Graeme (or your usual Brodies contact) if you wish to discuss any of these issues in further detail.

Graeme Leith

Managing Associate at Brodies LLP
Graeme is part of our Land Rural Business Sector and acts for landowners, funders, developers and tenants in a wide range of transactions affecting rural property.
Graeme Leith