Publication - Progress report

Getting the best from our land – a land use strategy 2016 to 2021: first annual progress report

Published: 16 Jul 2020

Since the publication of the Land Use Strategy 2016 - 2021, the Scottish Government has delivered on several of the key commitments that were set out within it. This report provides an overview of achievements to date as well as actions that remain to be completed.

Getting the best from our land – a land use strategy 2016 to 2021: first annual progress report
Annex A: Table 1. Progress on policies and proposals for Second Land Use Strategy 2016-2021 reporting duties

Annex A: Table 1. Progress on policies and proposals for Second Land Use Strategy 2016-2021 reporting duties

The table below captures key highlights on progress regarding the nine policies and five proposals as set out in the Second Land Use Strategy 2016-2021

Policy 1: Natural Resource Management

Statement in the Land Use Strategy

We are committed to better understanding and managing Scotland’s natural resources to enable their fair, wise and productive use, and to conserve stocks of ecosystem services for future generations. We will do this by promoting an ecosystem approach to managing our natural capital.

Response – key highlights

  • Scottish National Capital Accounts, adapted from existing UK-wide accounts by the ONS and second annual accounts published April 2020.
  • This is the first time country level estimates of the value of Scotland’s natural capital have been presented in monetary terms and will make it easier to incorporate natural capital into decision making 
  • Natural Capital Asset Index, published annually by Scottish Natural Heritage, is used as National Performance Framework indicator on natural capital. 
  • The index does not include monetary values or consider the marine environment and focusses only on the benefits Scotland’s terrestrial ecosystem provides to human wellbeing. 
  • The current NCAI indicator rating is ‘maintaining’
  • Land managers, communities and stakeholders have been involved with projects which promote an ecosystem approach, and which will help to protect and restore our natural capital
  • The ongoing Carse of Stirling Partnership project has illustrated how farmers, land managers and local communities worked together to develop the priorities for integrated land and water management by adopting the key principles of ecosystems work, considering the benefits nature provides to people and involving them is the decisions about the management of nature.
  • A number of land based businesses and organisations including Crown Estates Scotland have trialled the Natural Capital Protocol and other natural capital approaches. These trials have been pioneering projects within the UK, with some the first of their type anywhere in the world.   
  • The Cairngorms National Park Authority have used an ecosystems approach to identify priorities and opportunities for management as part of the development of the Cairngorms National Park Plan

Policy 2 : Policy Alignment

Statement in the Land Use Strategy

The Land Use Strategy 2016 – 2021 sits alongside and has informed the National Planning Framework 3, Scottish Planning Policy and the National Marine Plan to support Scotland’s Economic Strategy 2015. Relevant sectoral strategies (e.g. forestry and agriculture) will take account of the Land Use Strategy.

Response – key highlights

  • National Planning Framework 3 and Scottish Planning Policy under review.  
  • The Planning (Scotland) Act, 2019 requires Ministers give due regard to relevant policies and strategies when revising the National Planning Framework. The Land Use Strategy is specifically identified at section 3AB(3)(a)(v).
  • New National Planning Framework 4 will incorporate Scottish Planning Policy, spatial and thematic planning policies in one place and development plan status for planning purposes.  
  • Plan to lay draft National Planning Framework 4 in Parliament in 2021.
  • Scotland’s statutory National Marine Plan adopted and published in March 2015. 
  • Sets out how Scottish Ministers intend marine resources to be used and managed out to 200 nautical miles and applies to all decisions taken by public authorities which affect this marine area
  • Supports development and activity in Scotland’s seas and incorporates environmental protection into marine decision-making to achieve sustainable management. 
  • Scottish and UK legislation requirement to review and report on the implementation of the Plan.  
  • The plan was reviewed in 2018 and Ministers decided not to amend or replace the plan. This will be considered again in future reviews.

Policy 3: Statutory Spatial Planning System

Statement in the Land Use Strategy

We will undertake a programme of information and awareness raising.

This will provide:

  • more detail and clarity on the relevance of the Land Use Strategy to the planning system;
  • information about the added value the Land Use Strategy can bring, particularly to development planning; and,
  • information on the use of an ecosystems approach in Strategic
    Environmental Assessment (SEA), which in turn supports development

Response – key highlights

Policy 4: Forestry

Statement in the Land Use Strategy

We will undertake a review of the Scottish Forestry Strategy

Response – key highlights

  • The Scottish Government published Scotland’s Forestry Strategy 2019-2029 in February 2019.  
  • It presents a 50-year vision for Scotland’s forests and woodlands, and a 10-year framework for action to expand Scotland’s forests and woodlands so future generations can realise the full range and extent of the associated economic, social and environmental benefits.
  • The strategy was developed to support the vision, objectives and principles of the Land Use Strategy 2016-2021 and will be implemented as part of the integrated approach.
  • For example, a priority for action under the forestry strategy is to “expand the area of forest and woodlands, recognising wider land-use objectives”. This will be achieved by a range of activities including: supporting the creation of a range of types and scales of woodland for a range of purposes such as delivering the Scottish Government’s climate change plan targets; and ensuring an integrated approach to land-use policy to maximise the synergies and reduce the potential conflicts between different land uses.
  • A forestry strategy implementation plan has been developed with the input from a range of forestry and land use interests including members of a fixed-life stakeholder working group. The publication of the plan was delayed until the 16 June 2020 due to the Covid-19 emergency.
  • The Scottish Government published the plan to provide a baseline for the delivery of Scotland’s Forestry Strategy. Discussions will continue to be held with delivery organisations regarding the scheduling of actions as the sector restarts and responds to the emergency.

Policy 5: Land Reform

Statement in the Land Use Strategy

We will develop and consult on the draft of a first Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement which will contain principles to guide the development of public policy on the rights and responsibilities in relation to the ownership, use and management of land.

Response – key highlights

  • Statement of Land Rights and Responsibilities in Scotland, as required by Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016 published 28 September 2017 
  • The statement contains a vision and 6 principles intended to be mutually supportive. 
  • The Scottish Government must, under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016, promote the principles in the Statement when exercising its functions, so far as this is reasonably practicable. 
  • For the Statement to be an effective catalyst for change, all those with decision-making powers in relation to land have an important role in the realisation of the principles.
  • The Scottish Land Commission, (established April 2017) is required to have regard to the Scottish Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement in exercising its functions.

Policy 6: Ecosystem Services Mapping and Tools

Statement in the Land Use Strategy

We will continue to encourage those holding public data to make it open and available for others to use and will facilitate access to that data via the Land Use Data Directory.

We will explore the development of models and Geographic Information System (GIS) tools to enable assessments of land use/management change

Response – key highlights

  • The Scottish Government is currently exploring opportunities that will allow for the integration of satellite imagery with current data collection methodologies with a view to optimising  the assessment of land use within Scotland. The first example of this blended approach will be published alongside Scotland’s National Cereal statistics in 2020 where a new crop map will allow users to access imagery from across Scotland.

Policy 7: Regional Land Use Partnerships

Statement in the Land Use Strategy

We will encourage the establishment of Regional Land Use Partnerships

Response – key highlights

  • As part of its 2019-20 Programme for Government commitments the Scottish Government has asked the Scottish Land Commission to advise on the establishment of Regional Land Use Partnerships.  
  • The Land Commission will publish their report with recommendations to Ministers in Autumn 2020. 
  • Regional Land Use Partnerships to emerge by 2021 and Regional Land Use Frameworks in place by 2023

Policy 8: Agriculture

Statement in the Land Use Strategy

We will develop and implement a package of measures to facilitate the step change to climate friendly farming and crofting. This will promote carbon efficient agriculture, environmental benefits and increasingly integrated land use.

Response – key highlights

  • The Scottish Government published the Climate Change Plan: third report on proposals and policies 2018-2032 (RPP3) in February 2018. This included five overarching policy outcomes designed to help facilitate the step change to climate friendly farming and crofting
  • The Scottish Government wants Scotland to be a world-class producer of high quality food: sustainably, profitably and efficiently in environmental and economic terms using Low Carbon Farming methods. 
  • The Farming and Food Production – Future Policy Group (FFP-FPG) was established in January 2019 to develop and recommend future principles based around six key themes and a vision for 2050.
  • The group’s work has been impacted by COVID-19 but their report remains due to be published during the summer of 2020.
  • The Climate Smart Suckler Beef Group, a short life group was established in February 2020 to consider issues and collate evidence relating to climate change, environmental and production efficiency. The final report is due for publication in late 2020. 

Policy 9: Agri-Environment

Statement in the Land Use Strategy

We will continue to develop a targeted approach in the current SRDP Agri-Environment Climate Scheme and will utilise more localised map-based ecosystems assessments to inform funding decisions as appropriate and as these become available across Scotland.

Response – key highlights

  • Throughout the development and delivery of Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) schemes the Scottish Government continued to work with delivery partners, notably Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) in relation to the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme (AECS).
  • This collaboration allowed for a targeted approach to the SRDP Agri-environment and Climate Scheme (AECS) using a predominantly map based targeting system to help ensure scheme options were adopted in areas most likely to deliver the option outcomes. 
  • These maps have the functionality to be revised as and when further information becomes available in relation to the habitat or species that underpin them and on option uptake. 
  • A study of circa 20 farms delivering AECS contracts and 20 equivalent farms not in AECS contracts, and representative across different farm types in Scotland, was carried out by the James Hutton Institute (JHI) in 2019/20 and the findings will be combined with a series of AECS scheme option uptake heat maps for publication by SNH in summer 2020.   
  • An SNH commissioned study to illustrate how future rural support schemes could be re-directed to deliver a range of public goods appropriate to different farm types is due to be published in the summer 2020. As well as this SNH are also undertaking a review of the Improving Public Access options which will be published in summer 2020.

Proposal 1: Regional Land Use Frameworks

Statement in the Land Use Strategy

We will further explore the development of regional land use frameworks for rural areas of Scotland.

Response – key highlights

  • The Regional Land Use Frameworks will be developed by Regional Land Use Partnerships, which are not yet in place.
  • The Scottish Government has asked the Scottish Land Commission (SLC) to advise on the establishment of Regional Land Use Partnerships as part of the commitment in the 2019-2020 Programme for Government
  • The SLC intends to report to Ministers in the autumn of 2020.
  • This will enable Regional Land Use Partnerships to emerge locally by 2021 and Regional Land Use Frameworks in place by 2023

Proposal 2: Land Use Mediation and Facilitation

Statement in the Land Use Strategy

We will explore options for facilitation and/or mediation between land owners/managers and communities.

Response – key highlights

  • As the Regional Land Use Partnerships are yet to be completed, this proposal has not yet been taken forward. 
  • Under the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 Scottish Ministers have powers of arranging or facilitating mediation in relation to registration of interest in land or exercise right to buy land within Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003
  • The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016 also gives Scottish Ministers powers of arranging or facilitating mediation in relation to the proposed exercise of the right to buy land or a tenant's interest under Part 5 Right to buy land to further sustainable development.

Proposal 3: Agri-Environment

Statement in the Land Use Strategy

We will explore the further development of a targeted approach to agri-environment in the next SRDP (post 2020) and how this could make increased use of an assessment of ecosystem health and a spatial approach.

Response – key highlights

  • The Scottish Government set out its proposals for future agricultural funding in its June 2018 consultation on “Stability and Simplicity”. This included an approach for future rural policy until 2024 and allowed for a five-year transition period
  • These proposals set out the approach for future rural policy until 2024 and will allow for a five-year transition period, as recommended by the Scottish Government's Agriculture Champions. 
  • Where possible, “CAP Schemes” will be simplified to reflect the conclusions of the Simplification Task Force.
  • Work has begun on developing an Agricultural Transformation Programme. This will pay particular attention to assisting farming, food production and the wider agricultural industry to play their part in contributing towards the delivery of Scotland’s climate ambitions and environmental sustainability.
  • Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is piloting an outcome based approach to deliver improved environmental outcomes in future support schemes. They are working with 40 farmers and crofters in four clusters across Scotland (Skye, Argyll, Strathspey and East Lothian). 
  • In partnership with others, SNH has developed work to test how the internationally accepted framework for natural capital protocol could be applied to land based businesses and support future emphasis on the ecosystems services provided and help to have a stronger emphasis in future on the range of ecosystem services that land managers provide. Further development work is planned for 2020/21 to test this on a range and cluster of farms on a landscape scale.   

Proposal 4: Urban Land Use

Statement in the Land Use Strategy

We will explore the feasibility of establishing an urban land use pilot project.

Response – key highlights

  • After initial feasibility discussions this proposal was not progressed.

Proposal 5: Upland Land Use

Statement in the Land Use Strategy

We will scope the potential to develop a strategic vision for the uplands, exploring the multiple benefits they deliver and how they can contribute to climate change targets.

Response – key highlights

  • Scoping a strategic vision for the uplands report produced by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) for Scottish Government and published June 2016 https://www.nature.scot/sites/default/files/2017-10/A2195474%20-%20Scoping%20an%20upland%20vision.pdf
  • SNH was not asked to develop a strategic vision for the uplands, but to advise on the potential scope of such a vision and how it could be prepared.
  • The aim of the scoping exercise was to assist Scottish Ministers in determining whether a strategic vision for the uplands is both desirable and achievable and set within the frame of Land Use Strategy 2016-2021.

 


Contact

Email: LandUseStrategy@gov.scot