Land Reform History

Land Reform Research Project 2007

A research project was undertaken during 2007 to assess the social and economic impacts of land reform. The full report is published here.

Monitoring and Evaluating the Effects of Land Reform on Rural Scotland:a scoping study and impact assessment.

A summary of the report is also available.

Land Reform History

The Land Reform Policy Group, chaired by Lord Sewel set out a range of measures to pursue land (and related law) reform.

The Group published 3 documents:

Identifying the Problems was published in February 1998, and was its first consultation document. It details the problems and opportunities which land reform should address. The consultation exercise attracted over 360 responses, plus a further 90 dealing with land reform in response to the rural strategy consultation paper.

Identifying the Problems

Identifying the Solutions was published in September 1998, and was the Group's second consultation document. It attracted 846 responses. The document details the Group's visions for the future and sets out the next steps which should be taken for achieving these visions. A summary document was also produced.

Identifying the Solutions

Recommendations for Action was published in January 1999, although this was not intended as a consultation document, a number of responses were still received. The Group's final recommendations are set out at Annex B of the report.

Recommendations for Action

The Land Reform Policy Group saw the objective for land reform to remove the land-based barriers to the sustainable development of rural communities. Sustainable development iconsists of development which is planned with appropriate regard for local communities, local employment and the environment. It therefore needs an integrated approach which takes account of social and economic as well as environmental aspects. To achieve this, the group recommended that there needed to be follow-up action and subsequent progress reports to Parliament on the Land Reform Action Plan.

The Land Reform Action Plans were divided into the following topics:

  • Law Reform Legislation
  • Land Reform Legislation
  • Legislation on Countryside and Natural Heritage issues
  • Agricultural Holdings Legislation
  • Crofting Legislation
  • Action without Legislation
  • Issues for further study.

The Land Reform Action Plan (LRAP) was published quarterly between August 1999 and May 2000. It then became a half yearly publication to 2003.

Outcomes to date

Most of the Land Reform Policy Group recommendations have been achieved. Legislation enacted as a result of the land reform agenda includes:


Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act 2003

Title Conditions (Scotland) Act 2003


Abolition of Feudal Tenure (Scotland) Act 2000

Leasehold Casualties Act 2001

Tenements (Scotland) Act 2004