Community Asset Transfer: request from Knocknagael Ltd - decision notice letter

A decision notice to Knocknagael Limited on the Community Asset Transfer request.

Asset transfer under the Community Empowerment Act

Community asset transfer request for 8.28 HA of land at the Scottish Government Bull Stud, Knocknagael Farm, Inverness

Decision notice - refused

To: Dr Maria de la Torre, Knocknagael Limited

This Decision Notice relates to the asset transfer request made by Knocknagael Limited on 23 December 2021 in relation to the 8.28 hectare field, known as the Smiddy Field, which is currently part of the Scottish Government Bull Stud at Knocknagael Farm, Inverness.

The Scottish Government has decided to refuse the request.

The reasons for this decision are as follows:

  • when the land at Knocknagael was identified as surplus in 2012 it was on the assumption that Balrobert Farm would be available for producing winter keep for the Bull Stud. In 2014 a 10 year Limited Duration Tenancy (LDT) was created for a new entrant (and subsequently extended for a further 3 years). Therefore, the land deemed as surplus in 2012 is now integral to the farm management plans of the Knocknagael Bull Stud
  • as the Scottish Government do not consider the property to be surplus, continuing the existing use can be treated as an alternative proposal, as described in the asset transfer guidance in terms of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015
  • the Scottish Government has assessed that the benefits of the asset transfer request are judged to be less than the benefits of an alternative proposal, where agreeing to the request would restrict the Scottish Government’s ability to carry out its functions
  • although the land subject to the transfer request is currently not surplus to the requirements of the farm, we considered the longer-term Scottish Government and Highland Council priorities to deliver affordable housing allocation in the area that can be developed without the requirement for major infrastructural improvements. We felt that if Knocknagael Limited accepted our alternative location for allotments, if this field were to become surplus in the future, this option would provide wider public benefit and provide best value for a public asset
  • the asset transfer request does not meet the characteristics for Best Value as listed in the Scottish Public Finance Manual
  • we considered the benefits of the transfer request against our existing priorities of managing the land for producing winter feed for the bulls for hire under the Livestock Improvement Scheme (which provides socio-economic benefit for crofters with downstream benefits for wider rural communities). We assessed that the loss of this area of prime agricultural land would have an unacceptable impact on the operations of the Bull Stud (which is a Scottish Government priority as identified in the National Development Plan for Crofting)
  • agreeing to this request would require Scottish Government to put alternative arrangements in place such as purchasing alternative land suitable for growing crops (as we have no access to other farm land until at least 2027 when the farming tenancy at Balrobert comes to an end) or buying in alternative animal feeding sources which would substantially increase the annual running costs of the Bull Stud, which would have to be passed on to crofters (who already face higher operating costs than others in the Agricultural sector)
  • we consider the Knocknagael Limited proposal conflicts with the Scottish Government’s commitment to crofting as detailed in the National Development Plan for Crofting by affecting the cost of delivering the Livestock Improvement Scheme. To date despite the level of investment, the hire costs of the bulls has only been increased in line with inflation. The scheme subsidises bull hire by groups of crofters, by up to 60% of the full cost. If we were to agree to the asset transfer request, additional costs associated with managing the farm would be required to be passed onto the crofters using the bull hire service

Right to appeal

You have a right to appeal to the Scottish Ministers. 

Any appeal must be made in writing by 18 July 2022, which is 20 working days from the date of this notice, to:

Community Land Team
D Spur
Saughton House
Broomhouse Drive
EH11 3XD


Guidance on making an appeal is available on


T: 0300 244 4968
F: 01463 714697


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