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Land Reform Review Group

The Land Reform Review Group have been appointed by Scottish Ministers to identify how land reform will:

  • Enable more people in rural and urban Scotland to have a stake in the ownership, governance, management and use of land, which will lead to a greater diversity of land ownership, and ownership types, in Scotland;
  • Assist with the acquisition and management of land (and also land assets) by communities, to make stronger, more resilient, and independent communities which have an even greater stake in their development;
  • Generate, support, promote, and deliver new relationships between land, people, economy and environment in Scotland;

Land Reform Review Group









The Review Group is (l-r) vice-chairs Ian Cooke, Dr John Watt, chair Dr Alison Elliot, Special Adviser Robin Callander and vice-chair Pip Tabor.


Dr Alison Elliot (Chair)

Alison Elliot’s work straddles the university, civil society and the church. Formerly a lecturer in psychology, she is currently an Honorary Fellow at New College, University of Edinburgh. In 2004 she became the first woman to be appointed Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. She is Convener of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations and a Trustee of Community Service Volunteers. She was a member of the Commission on the Future Delivery of Public Services in Scotland and is involved in Government committees taking forward its proposals.

Alison lives in Edinburgh, was brought up in the Central Belt and had three crofting grandparents from Lewis and Sutherland. As Convener of the Church of Scotland’s Church and Nation Committee, she presented a report on Land Reform to the General Assembly in 1998. She chaired the Scottish Land Reform Convention from 1998 to 2001. She welcomes the opportunity to revisit the issues surrounding the relationship between land and people in Scotland and looks forward to a fresh and constructive consideration of the subject.

Ian Cooke 

Ian is the Director of the Development Trusts Association Scotland (DTAS). DTAS promotes and supports development trusts - community led organisations who use enterprise activity and assets to regenerate their communities. DTAS has recently being involved in Scottish Government funded work around the transfer of public sector (predominantly local authority) assets to communities.

Ian has been involved in community development for over 25 years, including posts as manager of the North Edinburgh Trust and the Pilton Partnership.

Dr John Watt OBE

John Watt has been involved in rural development for over 30 years, through his work for Highlands and Islands Enterprise and its predecessor the Highlands and Islands Development Board. As Director of Strengthening Communities at HIE, he had responsibility for HIE’s work with social and community development, including community land ownership and the growth of social enterprises. 

He established HIE’s Community Land Unit and was involved in many high profile community buyouts.  He helped deliver the first Scottish Land Fund and BIG's Growing Community Assets programme.

John chairs the Scottish Land Fund committee, and is a member of the Scottish Committee of the BIG Lottery.  He is also a non-executive director of New Start Highland and High Life Highland, two social enterprises based in his in home town of Inverness.

Pip Tabor

Pip Tabor graduated in Biology at the University of York, went on to do a teaching qualification and then taught science in Humberside for 4 years and then in Bhutan for the next three. He then joined Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) as Field Officer and helped run a programme of 35 volunteers working in education, health, agriculture, construction and information technology. In 1993 he undertook an MSc in Natural Resource Management at Edinburgh University and then joined Scottish Natural Heritage in the Borders where he was Area Officer for 5 years.

In 1999 he was appointed Project Manager of the Southern Uplands Partnership which has grown to be a major player in rural development in Southern Scotland.

He lives in the Scottish Borders with his artist partner and their three children.

Robin Callander

Robin lives in Birse parish, Aberdeenshire, and is self-employed.  He acts an adviser and agent for Birse Community Trust and the Birse Trading Company.  He also undertakes work as an independent special adviser to parliamentary and other public interest committees.  He was, until recently, retained as a Special Adviser by the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee and in recent years, has served in that capacity in both Parliaments for inquiries by the Treasury, Scottish Affairs and Scotland Bill Committees into the Crown Estate. He has been involved in practical land management for nearly 40 years. He has served on a range of government and NGO committees and been a Deer Commissioner and Crofters Commissioner. He is the author of ‘A Pattern of Landownership in Scotland’ (1987) and ‘How Scotland is Owned’ (1998). He managed the McEwen Lectures on Land Tenure in Scotland (1993-99).