Getting the best from our land: land use strategy for Scotland

Scotland's land use strategy.

5 Delivering the Land Use Strategy

Delivery of the Land Use Strategy involves improving our approaches to land use so as to benefit individuals and Scotland as a whole. We have to consider what the Government already does in terms of land use around the country; the role of the public sector more widely; the ability and willingness of individuals to contribute to our Objectives; and how to embed the Principles for Sustainable Land Use into plans, processes and decision making.

This Section focuses on what the Government and the wider public sector will do and also considers how other parties can play their part. The Strategy will not introduce new layers of complexity or bureaucracy.

Delivery has two key aspects - fulfilling the detailed Proposals set out in the Land Use Strategy and achieving more sustainable land use on the ground. Both require a partnership approach and both require the Government to take a strong lead, which it will do.

5.1 Delivering the Strategy's Proposals

The Government and its SEARS partners will lead delivery of the fourteen Proposals in the Strategy. We will start by publishing an action plan (Proposal 1), which will give more detail on each individual Proposal and how the Government plans to take it forward.

The Proposals supplement existing Government activity regarding land use, and are not the sole Government means of delivery for the Strategy. The Strategy is as much an agenda for policy-making as it is a guide for land-use decision-making and the Government will use it to shape and develop policy relating to land use.

5.2 Mainstreaming the Strategy's Principles

The Land Use Strategy, along with all other Government plans and strategies, is a key element in supporting sustainable economic growth. Section 1 explains the relationship between the Land Use Strategy and other government plans and strategies. As our various plans and strategies are reviewed and policies revised and developed, the Government will apply the Principles for Sustainable Land Use as appropriate and consider how particular policy areas can contribute to realising the Objectives of the Strategy. In this way the Land Use Strategy will become embedded into Government policies relevant to land use.

There will also be a specific focus on aligning regulations and incentives (Proposal 3) so that we have a consistent approach across Government.

5.3 Partnership approach

It is essential that delivery of both the specific Proposals in this Strategy and of more sustainable land use across Scotland is seen as a partnership. We expect the public sector to take account of the Principles for Sustainable Land Use in their plans and decision-making about the use of land. We also strongly encourage the private and third sectors, individuals and communities to use the Principles to guide their plans and decision-making and to work towards the achievement of the three Objectives.

In Scotland we already have a range of delivery mechanisms and do not need more. Rather than seek to impose a one-size-fits-all approach or to introduce new and costly delivery mechanisms, we will work with existing processes and willing partners to determine what works best and where. We may need to develop and better use certain mechanisms so as to adapt to changing conditions, and this could lead to developing new or preferred approaches with wider application in the future.

5.4 Public sector lead in the short term

The delivery of sustainable land use will require collaboration and partnership between the private and the public sector. However, we expect the public sector to take a lead and to set an example:

  • By the way it manages its own land and other land which it controls directly
  • By reviewing and renewing its plans and strategies in line with the Strategy
  • By encouraging partnership working across land-use sectors, across land boundaries and with the private and third sectors

A range of existing mechanisms can help to achieve delivery on the ground, with SNH, FCS and SEPA all having key roles; for example:

  • through Forestry and Woodland Strategies, working with local authorities and others in some areas to expand existing Strategies beyond forestry issues to incorporate a much wider range of land uses. These Strategies can then be used to assist in decisions on grant funding, development proposals and other decisions relating to land use and land-use change
  • through River Basin Management Plans and Flood Risk Management Plans, utilising the Principles for Sustainable Land Use to guide all stakeholders' decisions about how land is used. This could consider catchment-scale land uses and identify where there is scope for change, especially if combined with other mechanisms such as Forestry and Woodland Strategies
  • through National Park Plans (implementing current Plans and developing future ones), National Park Authorities in a collective and co-ordinated approach with other relevant public bodies can apply and put into practice the Principles and Objectives, making choices about land use and priorities across the Park areas
  • through Local Authorities taking the Land Use Strategy into account as they undertake their work, if they wish involving their local Community Planning Partners in deciding how to do this.

5.5 The longer term

We strongly encourage all parties involved in land use in Scotland to consider and use the Principles for Sustainable Land Use and apply them as appropriate for their land. Integrated approaches and multifunctional land use are not just about achieving wider benefits: they make good business sense and will help land managers to improve their returns and achieve greater productivity and efficiency. Achieving a mix of uses and income streams, including taking any opportunities for diversification, will also make businesses more robust and likely to adapt successfully to changes in the market and the environment.

Land managers will continue to operate with regard to the many influences around them 50 . They are governed by regulations, driven by market prices and financial incentives, and influenced in other ways by society. The Government will continue to exert its own influence by managing regulation and incentive regimes in line with the Principles for Sustainable Land Use.

5.6 Individuals making a difference

Building on its existing provision of information and guidance, the Government proposes to establish a central resource - an Information Hub (Proposal 13) - to consolidate access to new and existing information and guidance on land use. This will help build capacity to assist organisations and individuals to influence land use positively in a variety of ways; informing their understanding of what land provides and the impacts of consumption and lifestyle choices. It will also equip individuals to engage with existing debates and processes, such as development planning.

Underpinning this understanding is Scotland's high-quality research on land use 51 , with our research institutes playing a leading part. The Information Hub will facilitate improved knowledge transfer and access to information, leading to wider translation of research findings and other expertise into informed decision-making on the ground.

5.7 The changes we want

A strategic approach to land use will make a real difference to Scotland. The Proposals set out in this first Strategy will help to set us on the right path, but the longer-term shifts in the way that we approach land use will result in the change we want. Sections 2, 3 and 4 each identify a significant shift in our thinking and our approach to land use.

  • Delivering multiple benefits
  • Partnerships with nature
  • Linking people with the land

If we can achieve these shifts in our thinking and our approach, what will be different as we head towards the middle of this century?

Land and the environment that it supports will be recognised as underpinning Scotland's economy and society. This improved understanding will not be limited to land managers; it will extend to everyone who has an influence on decision-making: consumers, policy-makers, politicians, businesses. And land use won't be seen as just a rural issue - it will be seen as important by everyone, wherever they live.

Land-based businesses will have seized the opportunities introduced by changing circumstances, working in partnership with nature to build stronger and more sustainable businesses that provide more of the goods and services that Scotland requires. Creative and better-informed approaches to combining different uses of the land will see land managers delivering more benefits from the same land and being rewarded for doing so.

Land use will be fulfilling its potential to contribute to a prosperous low-carbon economy. Its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions will have dramatically reduced, with land managers playing an active and considerable role in helping Scotland adapt to a changing climate.

Our broader appreciation of land use will have fostered a more holistic approach to decision-making built on a mutual understanding of diverse and multiple objectives. Land managers will be factoring a wider range of concerns and values into decisions about land use, and impacts on the environment will have reduced as the costs of wasteful and damaging practices are taken into account.

We will each understand the impacts of our consumption and lifestyle choices on the land and the way it is used, and will feel a deeper sense of connection to the land, recognising that its wellbeing is crucial to our own.


Email: Central Enquiries Unit

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