Seeking To Buy Under Part 5 - Application Form And Content
Do you agree with our proposals for a draft application form at Annex C?
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- There were 18 responses to this question, with 12 responses in agreement with the proposal for the application form. One response disagreed, and 5 partially agreed.
- One individual said that the definition of sustainable development seems very hazy - and hard for communities to present a clear picture when there is so little clarity amongst academics, Scottish Government policy makers and environmentalists as to what it means. They said the economic return of a wind farm may be easily modelled but asked to what extent is it "sustainable" if it is built on deep peat, destroys carbon, leaves cement foundations in place for eternity and impacts on the landscape of a "Wild Land" area or a National Park?
- They also expressed concern that a land owner leaving land in its natural state - which may have biodiversity benefits, also absorbing carbon through the soils or vegetation and trees and preventing flooding, may find their land being bought by communities under the guise of "sustainable development".
- Another individual said that the section on harm, asking for information on 'harm that is already occurring or that is very likely to occur if the proposed land transfer does not take place' could seem a little unclear. However, they said that hopefully in completing the form a satisfactory response to the question could be developed.
- The NHS said that the detail needs to be specific rather than general and include business plans, information as to the viability of the project and funding. They should set out what risks the community body has identified in respect of the transfer and how such risks would be dealt with.
- The James Hutton Institute had concerns about the specifications for maps being onerous for community groups, and also concerns about the difficulties for communities in identifying the owner of the land they wish to acquire. They also said there is a need for a clear and comprehensible definition of the ‘public interest’ within the application form and the accompanying guidance. They said that more information is necessary to inform community groups regarding the scale of the ‘public interest’ (i.e. broader than community scale) and the criteria for the assessment of whether a proposal is in the ‘public interest’.
- Community Land Scotland (CLS) suggested adding a box for foreshore in the types of land in section 3.1. They noted with regard to section 5.6 of the form that not all tenancies are registered, so it is perhaps better to ask this question with respect to the community body’s awareness of a tenancy arrangement.
- HIE noted that if the community body wishes a third party to be the purchaser it’s not clear whether one or two boxes should be marked with a ‘x’. They said it would be easier to read if the reference to the third party purchaser followed on from, rather than preceded, the references to applicant body type. Like CLS they also suggested a box for the foreshore and suggested that section 5.6 refer to the community body’s awareness of a tenancy arrangement.
Scottish Government Response
The Scottish Government will ensure the application form is drafted to capture the right amount and type of information, to allow assessment against the conditions for approval of transfer in Part 5. In terms of definitions, it is for communities to put forward their case as to why they believe the various conditions will be met, such as how the transfer will be in the public interest and promote sustainable development. Scottish Ministers will consider each application on its merits.
Do you agree that the specifications for maps, plans and drawings should be similar to those for Part 3A of the 2003 Act?
- There were 17 responses to this question, with 15 responses agreeing with the proposal, 1 disagreeing and 1 partially agreeing.
- An individual suggested that the maps should extend to show what other communities lie outwith the development area and what the likely impact, e.g. in landscape terms, will be on these other communities.
- The James Hutton Institute suggested that the specifications should consider the likely costs to communities, their capacities and capability, and how advice or support services can be made available to help community bodies to meet the specifications, and the process as a whole. They suggested community bodies be given sufficient time to produce outputs that meet the specifications set for the mapping, including time required by communities to seek support and advice, and to produce the final maps. They also suggested consideration be given to aligning specifications with existing infrastructure, for which local experience and capability has already been developed, such as the process of land registration, or maps created for IACS reporting (IACS is the Integrated Administration and Control System, the process for ensuring a mapped register of fields against which agricultural subsidies are claimed).